Deuteronomy 3:26-28 (MSG)
But GOD was still angry with me because of you. He wouldn’t listen. He said, “Enough of that. Not another word from you on this. 27 Climb to the top of Mount Pisgah and look around: look west, north, south, east. Take in the land with your own eyes. Take a good look because you’re not going to cross this Jordan. 28 “Then command Joshua: Give him courage. Give him strength. Single-handed he will lead this people across the river. Single-handed he’ll cause them to inherit the land at which you can only look.”
Sometimes you wonder if anything that is being said really matters. Does anyone get the message? The reason I say this is because we live in a culture that basically judges a message by how entertaining it is. The truth is, the best compliment you can give the word of the Lord is the testimony of a TRANSFORMED LIFE.
Booker T Washington said, “There are two ways of exerting one’s strength; one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” My desire is to PULL you UP and GIVE you MY STRENGTH so you can be a better saint, a better husband, a better parent – or simply better than you were before. It is important if you want to make a difference and a change for better in your life. How will you use your strength? Everybody has life skills, talents and abilities that matter. Nobody is bankrupt of strength and ability. You were born with certain gifts and if you have been saved you have acquired more gifts that are useful, powerful and significant.
We all have these things. No one is empty. Everyone has something to give.
Look how groups like Hamas and ISIS use their STRENGTH – to destroy, to kill and HURT as many people as they can. Some people want to frustrate and weaken the hands of God’s people who are trying to fulfill the purpose of God.
Ezra 4:4-5 (KJV)
Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, 5 And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
These people even brag about how they hinder and frustrate the Kingdom purpose.
Revelation 17:12-13 (KJV)
And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
While many of those who follow Islam give their strength to the beast, I choose to give my STRENGTH to the PROMISE. We must channel our strengths to a greater purpose. We live in an evil and violent world that thinks nothing of taking what does not belong to them and hurting you in the process.
I do not want to run in vain.
Philippians 2:16 (KJV)
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
How are you going to use the talents, skills and abilities that lie within you? How are you going to use your strengths? How do you plan to put your strengths into practice?
Samson was one of the strongest men in the Bible, but through 4 chapters and 96 verses, and in 40 years of judging Israel, he only prayed two prayers. He had miraculous strength but the only prayers he prayed were for God to get him out of predicaments he had gotten himself into. Samson illustrates the tragedy of a mismanaged life! Not once did he lead Israel to a greater expression of worship or adoration or faith to God. When they led him into the Temple of Dagon they heard the music playing and the people praising Dagon for delivering Samson into their hand. Samson took his strengths and used them in such a way that he made the Philistines more pagan than they already were.
We are not here to make things worse; we are here to make things better. I hope you will make up your mind to help your Pastor and your church become the best church it can be. We need people who want their pastor and their church to be the best thing in the city. Too many times we allow the enemy to deceive us into thinking that because of our flaws and failures we cannot be used by God. We come to church and are disappointed because we are operating on our weaknesses and expect people to cater to them rather than overcome them. We expect someone to do something to make us feel better about ourselves. We have no internal compass of truth that guides us to give our strength to the mission at hand.
I want to use my strength as Saul did before his name was changed to Paul. The Bible says, But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews . . . proving that this Jesus is the Christ (Acts 9:22). Psychologist Sheldon Kopp says, “All of the significant battles are waged within the self.” That’s true. The greatest of the battles people wage is against their own flaws and failures. To have an opportunity to reach your potential, you must know who you are and face your flaws. You can reach your potential tomorrow if you dedicate yourself to growth today. Remember, to change your world, you must first change yourself.
We must evaluate and know the personalities and attributes of different people before we give them a kingdom assignment. Most people are aware of the godly attributes one needs to become a godly leader, however, many times they are unaware of the ones they personally need to improve. That is why you need a pastor in your life – to help define your strengths and weaknesses.
Some weaknesses cannot be improved upon. For example, musical talent cannot be imparted, but a negative attitude can always be improved. Sometimes, we as humans get a little lax, forgetful or over confident and need to be refreshed.
With the help of Sister Earline Perkins, I have compiled 17 attributes of a Godly Leader.
1. Attribute of Common Goals: Any leader must establish a common goal. In a church body, the goal is for the lost to be saved and the saved to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
2. Attribute of Unity: Success can only be achieved if all in leadership have unity in obtaining the goal. Leaders must always work together, never in competition (Ephesians 4:3).
3. Attribute of Holiness: Those in leadership must live a life that can be emulated and scrutinized, as it will be (Titus 2).
4. Attribute of Patience: Those in leadership must realize results do not happen overnight but with patience, results will manifest (2 Timothy 2:24).
5. Attribute of Submission to Authority: Obeying those who have rule over you is a must for success in any endeavor (Hebrews 13:17).
6. Attribute of Focus: Be careful not to get distracted by tangible things, or forgetting the goal of souls being saved. Don’t let buildings, decorations, or social functions be anything but a means to win the lost (Mark 16:15-16).
7. Attribute of Doing your Best: Stay strong in the service and do not get weak in the effort (2 Chronicles15:7).
8. Attribute of Motivation: A good leader will implement ways to motivate others (Hebrews 10:24).
9. Attribute of A Positive Attitude: It is essential to speak positively to coworkers to encourage progress. A negative word can tear down miles of progress (2 Samuel 23:3).
10. Attribute of Justice: A God fearing leader will strive to be just in all matters and not petty or self-serving (Proverbs 10:20).”
11. Attribute of Diligence to Study: A leader should continue to study the Word. God speaks to us through his word and study will keep us refreshed and directed (2 Timothy 2:15).
12. Attribute of Faithfulness: Only with faithfulness can one be effective in any endeavor (Matthew 25:23).
13. Attribute of Strength: Don’t grow weary in doing well. We must take care of ourselves in order to complete the job (Galatians 6:9).
14. Attribute of Availability: It doesn’t matter how much talent you have. If you are not available, it is not profitable to the Kingdom work.
15. Attribute of Knowledge: A good leader will study his area of authority, and know it well. He will be forewarned about situations that may arise and store in his mind how best to handle them. In this way costly mistakes can be avoided. This is much the same way a Doctor is trained and automatically knows how to handle an emergency.
16. Attribute of Encouragement: A good leader will encourage those under his leadership and walk beside those who are learning. Remember, Peter was not perfect, but Jesus saw something in him. He knew he could carry out the message of new birth (Matthew 16:18).
17. Attribute of Service: A good leader serves others and is not seeking self-gratification or promotion in the Kingdom of God.
Godly leaders must examine and refresh their attitudes frequently in order to be pleasing to God and to become the best leader they can be.
The first time that Adam and Eve sinned, they thought God was so small that they could hide
from Him and He would not see them. They didn’t realize that He was bigger than their garden and what they were.
Jacob went on a journey, fell asleep, dreamed, woke up, and said, “This is the house of God. The Lord is in this place, and I knew it not!” He knew that God was real back home, but had no idea he could find God in the wilderness. He had an expansion of his understanding of doctrine so He could realize this truth.
Moses had the same thing happen to him, both in Egypt and in the wilderness. God is so big that you call on Him anywhere and He will answer you. Moses was given the authority to command Pharaoh to “Let my people go,” but not until He received a revelation of His name.
God’s people do not need to be bound by sicknesses or disease. I believe that the Lord can take care of and deliver His people from this.
How many of you believe that the stripes that were placed upon His back were done for our healing and deliverance? We don’t need a special speaker or special service. Just realize that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
He said, “I am the Lord, and I change not” (Malachi 3:6).
In another verse, Jeremiah 23:24, the Lord says, “Do not I fill Heaven and the earth?” Can I tell you today without offending you that the earth is the Lord’s, and the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth?
In Acts 17, Paul was speaking to unbelievers when he declared that “the Lord was near unto them.” He didn’t focus on how far away they were from God, but rather the opposite. He focused on how close they were to God.
Yes, we all have a sin problem – we were born with it, but the Lord can save and deliver us out of it.
For those who think we have a monopoly on God; get rid of that thought right now. He doesn’t belong to anybody. He’s in all places, at all times.
Just shout out His Name and declare your need for Him.
Here’s a revelation that I learned while traveling as an evangelist which I’ve had to repeat it to myself many times in certain situations, and that is, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
The whole concept of liberty is in my mind, not God’s. The blessing of the Lord is upon this church, and God is about to free people from drugs, alcohol, addictions and diseases.
The powers of Hell that want to hold our young people captive and hound the hearts of others – I say that even as you worship the Lord, God is able to free them.
If you are afraid, sick or defeated, God is able to free you and confirm His Word with power.
We don’t need new programs or a new message – we just need to be sure about what we believe. Just release your faith with the knowledge that God is able to minister.
We don’t have control over miracles – that’s God’s department. There is no such thing as a miracle-worker or a faith-healer.
It is NOT people that do that, but God Himself. He told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
I pray that those who are backslidden will renew their faith in Christ. “For greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.” We, as a church, need to operate in the faith and power of the Spirit, and declare that we are built on a solid foundation.
Satan wants to sift you as wheat and destroy your soul – to talk you out of your faith. My faith, according to the Word, is still a true act of my devotion towards Him. I want to give it to Him in consecration because He is worthy.
God has given you access through the Cross to Him, and that is the most important connection. To those who might say to me, “I need more information” – what we really need is transformation.
Stop looking at people’s failures. Stop looking for someone to talk you into a faith that you’re already supposed to have.
Focus on the one true God, which is Jesus Christ, and release your faith.
If you want to see God move with power in your life, repent and release your will to His. The is most powerful thing you can do is “Live What You Believe.”
Too often we live our lives with a GAP between what we say we believe and what we actually live. The truth is, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit we all have that gap. But today, God is calling His church to close the gap and start living what you believe.
No matter how severe the attack from Satan is, I assure you that contained within the gospel is the power to get back up and declare that Jesus is God.
I want your heart to be so insulated by the Breastplate of Righteousness and by the Shield of Faith that there will be no crisis or adversity to arise that can shake you from your Foundation of Truth. For our foundation stands sure. Let it be established in our hearts, as a rock which cannot be moved, in Jesus’ Name.
Some might ask, “What is our foundation?” In essence, it is the doctrine of Jesus Christ that we teach and preach. Paul understood this when he prayed for the church at Ephesus, that the eyes of their understanding be enlightened to “know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward of those who believe according to His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:18,19).
This is what I’m praying for today because I want you to have the same confidence of hope and knowledge so that you can know, “What is the hope of your calling.” The cornerstone of our foundation is the understanding that there is only one God.
Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.”
Why preach the doctrine? Why are you so firm on this foundation?
1 Timothy 4:16 – “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine, that you may continue in them; for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.”
I cannot save you by my opinion, or by what’s popular with society nowadays – that is not going to get you to Heaven. I can’t get you out of your misery and into a victorious life unless I preach the truth that is contained in this Word.
I’m not looking for another God – I’ve found the one true God. I don’t need to go searching for Him. I know that God has requested that we seek him with all our heart. This is in the sense of establishing a covenant relationship that goes beyond the shallow experiences of people who are not grounded in the truth.
WE do not need another gospel or another God; we need to deepen our relationship with the One True King, who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.
He is invisible – a spirit that lives within our hearts through the power of the Holy Ghost. There is none beside Him – He alone is God. His Name is above every name.
We are so privileged to not only know him as the Creator, but we also know Him personally, for we know Him by name. You don’t really know somebody unless you know his or her name. I want to know when the Lord is talking to me and I want to recognize His voice.
It’s impossible to know the Lord if you don’t know His Name. His Name is not Father, Son, or Holy Ghost – these are expressions of how I relate to Him. Yes, He is my Father, and as the Son of God, He died for my sins, and as the Holy Ghost, He lives inside of me. However, there is a NAME that I can call that has power to save me. That Name is above every name. “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under Heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
You can choose to waste your enthusiasm on meaningless trinkets that you can’t take with you to the grave, but my choice is to get excited about the only message that can save our city – about the One who died for my sins, whose Name is Jesus.
I think it’s time for the church to get rock-solid on truth so that nothing can shake it. We don’t need to be confused by every voice/doctrine that is going around. This One True God has the power and the interest to deliver His people, to fight their battles and give us the ability to be, “more than a conqueror.”
The church is fighting for her identity and that battle rages continually in both our culture and from within but we must fight the good fight of faith. We do that by standing our ground, speaking the truth in love, and raising the banner high enough so everyone knows we are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I don’t know why we fight among ourselves rather than with our true enemy. The fact that we are doing this is profane – the Bible calls it that.
We need to be fighting the devil who is busy deceiving people.
You need to understand that this Name is highly exalted. It is superior to any other name that God has been called. It is the only Name that Heaven honors. You can’t do spiritual warfare without that Name.
That is why we baptize in His Name – to activate the power of God through the Blood of Jesus Christ to remove our sins. It’s the only Name that can break the chains and bring new birth. I wasn’t born again because I’m a Pentecostal – I was born again because I have Jesus in my life.
When you’re born again, you receive the spirit of adoption. Through His Name, you become a part of His family. I want to bear the image of my Father, who is Jesus Christ. I want Him to change me from who I am into who He wants me to be. This world will paint a false picture of reality for you. It will take more than it gives. That’s why I say, “Thank God for the Blood and for the Name!”
I didn’t get the Holy Ghost from the United Pentecostal Church. I got it from the One who sent it in His Name. I called on the Name of Jesus, and He filled me with His Spirit. How did I know I got the Holy Ghost? I spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave me the utterance, just like the Bible said I would.
I just want you to know that you are a part of this Kingdom. You are a Child of God. God is the same, no matter where you may go. You won’t get more of Him in one place than you will in another.
When we make the choice to be transformed and to live a life that accomplishes the will of God, it is the greatest compliment we can give to the Lord and His Word. Preaching is nothing but entertainment if it doesn’t change us. Too often we enjoy the presentation of the Word but do not give worth to its superiority because we refuse to apply it.
Sometimes we judge the value of a message by its entertainment quality and even though we feel it is God given, too many times we do not have a strategy to implement that Word in our daily life. Application should trump presentation for every believer.
There is a principle taught in Hebrews 4:2 that we must recognize. For indeed we have had good tidings preached unto us, even as also they: but the word of hearing did not profit them, because it was not united by faith with them that heard. In order for the Word to cause transformation in our lives it must be mixed with faith. As Socrates once said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old but on building the new.” It is time to build the NEW.
It is important to note that the Word will either transform us or it will judge us. When the Word transforms us, our mind is renewed, we receive a better perspective, and it helps us to bring our thoughts into captivity unto the obedience of Christ. When the Word is preached, faith is ignited. When truth is embraced we are freed from the past, our chains, and our present bondage and are now free to pursue our destiny. John Maxwell said, “We cannot become what we need by remaining what we are.”
As Acts 26:18 promises, this truth will, ….open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
If we reject the Word it will stand against us in judgment. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day (John 12:48).
Whether the Word changes us or judges us is a choice we make. The Word is always going to accomplish God’s will. It is up to me and it is up to you if we are going to benefit from it. I must be determined to rejoice in my rebukes, learn to heed divine warnings, and receive correction with gladness. Remember, the Bible is firm and stern in its warning of our tendency to be stubborn and stiff-necked. He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).
God’s word will be fulfilled one way or the other. So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it(Isaiah 55:11). Those who are out of shape mentally usually fall victim to ideas and systems that are destructive to the human spirit and to human relationships. They are vulnerable because they have not been taught how to think, nor have they set themselves to the life-long pursuit of the growth of the mind. Not having the facility of a strong mind, they grow dependent upon the thoughts and opinions of others. Rather than deal with ideas and issues, they reduce themselves to lives full of rules, regulations, and programs (Gordon MacDonald).
Transformation is elevation; it is advancement, and restoration which is the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition. For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after (Jeremiah 30:17).
God’s purpose is to elevate us to a higher place of relationship with him. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places (Habakkuk 3:19).
Transformation gives us an advantage over our enemies and we will be victorious. It is the only way to advance in the Kingdom and to promote the cause of Christ until the day He returns and His plan is fulfilled. Paul says it like this, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).
You can be born again and still be an emotional wreck. You need restoration. Break free from the emotional bondage and scars of past sins so you can develop into what God wants you to be.
As true transformation begins in our life, we become renewed, restored, and refreshed. We can then fulfill our destiny, experience victory and fully realize that we have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.
That is what the New Birth is all about. It is about walking in the newness of life. For we have been reborn.
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God (John 1:10-13 – (NLT).
Our born-again experience is transformational. His blood remits our sins. They are just not covered…they are gone! The Holy Ghost fills us with the very essence of God and leads us into all truth. His Spirit gives us the ability to continually grow and produce the fruit of the Spirit. For every tree is known by his own fruit… (Luke 6:44)
As Yehuda Berg said, “We need to realize that our path to transformation is through our mistakes. We’re meant to make mistakes, recognize them, and move on to become unlimited.”
What are the results of transformation?
Becoming Christ like in every aspect of our lives.
Developing the fruit of the Spirit.
Being led by the Spirit.
Becoming the example/witness that makes a difference in the world.
Let God Transform You
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:1-2 – NLT).
Our transformation is only possible if we “let God” do it. In order for Him to do it, we must allow Him permission to change the way we think. For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: (Proverbs 23:7).
If we are truly transformed we will be changed into another form; by definition, transform is to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of. Change completely. (Transformed as stated in Romans 12:2 is from the Greek: Metamorphoo “to change into another form” –Strong’s Concordance; meta, implying change, and morphe, “form:” –Vines)
As believers if we submit to a complete change in obedience to Romans 12:2, that change will occur in our character and conduct. The last part of the word “transformed” is morphe and it emphasizes the inward change. The first part of the word emphasizes the outward change. True transformation is a complete change with both inward and outward implications and it is a continual process.
A caterpillar enters a cocoon and in the secret of its own demise a metamorphosis takes place and transformation into a beautiful butterfly is completed.
Remember that death is always painful, especially when you are dying to appetites and passions that are destructive but so tempting to give into. However, as Arthur Burt stated, “NOTHING HAPPENS until the pain of REMAINING THE SAME outweighs the pain of CHANGE.”
You may feel like you have the reached the end, but the end is nothing more than an opportunity for a new beginning. “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” – Richard Bach
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image (JESUS) from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).
We have been transformed – so walk in Newness of Life.
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life(Romans 6:4).
Paul says we are to walk in “newness” of life and serve in “newness” of the Spirit (Rom 6:4; 7:6). A new creation formed by the Spirit releases us from bondage to sin and law, and gives us a new quality to life and service.
Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: oldthings are passed away; behold allthings are becomenew (II Corinthians 5:17).
Let Christ be formed in you.My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you (Galatians 4:19).
Jesus prayed and the fashion of His countenance was altered. We have often heard the wise adage, “Prayer changes things,” however, the truth is, prayer does much more than that; prayer changes you, and you change things.
….And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering (Luke 9:29).
And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light (Matthew 17:2).
Change of Lifestyle is Transformation
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).
We need to put off the old ways of the world and put on the new behaviors exampled by Jesus.
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (Colossians 3:8-10).
Renewed: To cause to grow up, new, to make new. What used to be in the beginning is being restored and transformed back into the original image in Genesis 1:2, So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
As we read in Jeremiah 18: 1-6 regarding the potter’s house, God is a master of restoration. We were all fearfully and wonderfully made, but living in this world can cause damage to our souls. He sees us marred and damaged, takes our lump of clay, and He re-works us with tender hands as we are molded…transformed…into His image.
His delight is in the fact that we want Him to transform us. As Watchman Nee said, “It is a fact that God wants to destroy every work of our flesh, but He never desires to destroy our personality. He takes no pleasure in transforming us into automata; rather does He delight in having us cooperate with Him.”
It is time for us to be re-imaged; completely cleansed and start over.
Revelation 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
My latest book, Made For More – 7 Proven Strategies For Reaching Your Full Potential, is now available. I hope you enjoy these excerpts from my book.
Endurance Leads to Victory
The path to blessing leads through suffering. A fourth way suffering produces growth is that when you endure, you become victorious. The path to blessing leads through suffering. This aspect of Strategy No. 5 is crucial. When you experience difficulty on your journey, you must remember that victory comes to those who persevere. No trial lasts forever, but it will produce a harvest of holiness in your life if you remain faithful.
God, at times, allows us to go through pain in order to experience the blessing that he has for us and for those we can influence with our lives. Often, our pain also serves to bring blessing to others. Until we see the big picture—what God is doing in and through the difficulties in our lives—we miss the fact that God is using it for his ultimate glory. Don’t misinterpret your pain, struggles, or circumstances as either a curse from God or a roadblock that cannot be overcome. God is not punishing you; rather, he is positioning you for his purpose. Remember, “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
Practice Strategic Thinking
Strategy Trumps Vision
A second reason to engage in strategic thinking is that how you go about an endeavor has the power to make or break what you hope to do. Good intentions are worthless in the absence of a practical strategy. And strategy ultimately determines outcome. How you choose to accomplish your goal—and not the goal itself—will determine whether you are successful. Just as you cannot drive from New York to London, you cannot achieve your full potential through a regimen of complaining, isolation, procrastination, and ignorance. The things you do determine what you accomplish. Your pathway determines your destination. Strategy trumps vision every time. To succeed in growing to your full potential, you must have a strategic plan for doing so.
Practice Strategic Thinking
Sun Tzu, the military general, strategist, and philosopher of ancient China, observed this in his classic work, The Art of War, “When your strategy is deep and far-reaching, then what you gain by your calculations is much, so you can win before you even fight. When your strategic thinking is shallow and near-sighted, then what you gain by your calculations is little, so you lose before you do battle. Much strategy prevails over little strategy, so those who have no strategy cannot help but be defeated. Therefore it is said that victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”5 I couldn’t agree more with the concept that to be successful, you must learn to think strategically. Show me your plan for growth, and I will tell you how successful you will be. A strong plan, well executed, will lead to a good result. Here are some practical growth activities that will assist you in creating a strategic plan for growth.
Every person, regardless of his or her station in life, has the God-given potential to be something more than they currently are. We are all aware of this at some level. We know that God has created us for more—more holiness, more fruitfulness, better relationships, less guilt, fewer regrets. We instinctively know that we have unrealized potential, regardless of how much progress we may already have made. God could do more in us, with us, and through us if we were more fully available to him and more fully saturated with his Holy Spirit. This truth is not for pastors only. Every believer has the potential to grow, to become more like Christ and more effective in his Kingdom. And it isn’t true only of new believers. No matter how long a person has walked with the Lord, he or she has room—and responsibility—to keep seeking, keep growing. Spiritual growth is not a course of study that ends with graduation. You will be growing in Christ for all eternity. And one of the great tragedies of our day is that so many Christians ignore or defer both the need and opportunity to be transformed by the Spirit of God. You were made for more.
I want to help you understand, identify, and remove the barriers to a deeper relationship with God. We grow by our connection to him; therefore, it is essential to understand the things that will enhance that relationship and the things that detract from it. The busyness of life—even the busyness of church—demands so much of our time and attention that we are not able to keep in close contact with God, overcome sin in our lives, and function the way he wants us to. Ironically, many pastors and other Christian workers spend so much time investing in the kingdom that they fail to pay attention to their own heart. Even the apostle Paul had this concern and warned about it, saying, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27). I have seen many Christians—even pastors—fall into this trap. Some have even failed morally and walked away from ministry simply because they became too overwhelmed to maintain their spiritual health. Though many have repented, salvaging their marriage and their own salvation, they nevertheless failed to live up to their full potential in Christ. I want more for you.
I want more for every believer, every pastor, every church volunteer, every follower of Jesus. My aim in writing this book is not merely to build a hospital at the bottom of the hill to help and heal those who have fallen—though I do believe in saving and restoring grace. Rather, I want to build a Temple at the top of the hill, a place of hope, of worship, of intimate fellowship, that will draw all people to a deeper, closer, more powerful relationship with Jesus Christ. Once there, I want to construct a guardrail—a fence—to ensure that we continue in close fellowship with the Father. We need solid principles and consistent actions that will keep us from sliding back into old habits and practices. This fence has seven sides. They are seven spiritual principles that will open your eyes to weaknesses in your life, make you aware of the more that God has for you, and ensure that your relationship with him remains intimate, vibrant, and strong. When we are finished, you will have a clearer picture of what your life could be, and you will have identified practical action steps for moving in that direction. You will be energized, equipped, and motivated to set out on the greatest adventure of your life—reaching your full potential in Christ. Are you ready?
My recently released book, Made for More – 7 Proven Strategies for Reaching Your Potential, is now available through Amazon, Kindle, or you may order directly from us at First Pentecostal Church by calling 850-477-1100.
I have learned certain truths that I perceive to be absolutes for leaders and those who want to grow. You can hedge on some principles, but these are rock solid and you must submit to them or your forward progress will be derailed. I have never seen anybody violate these certainties and then accidently stumble into growth and success. As a matter of fact, I have never seen anyone even hedge on these and last very long in kingdom work. Everyone that is used of God applies them faithfully. It does not mean that they do not have struggles and that God does not apply the necessary pressure to forge them into a new appreciation of their importance, but everyone sooner or later realizes they must comply or be eliminated from the picture.
Take the High Road. This simply means to rise above pettiness. One of the greatest enemies to our legacy is a critical, petty spirit. I have seen great leaders fall into this trap and completely wipe out their legacy because they lost their ability to affirm others. As we grow older we become more fearful and insecure, but when you take the high road you remain confident, especially when others are insecure. So keep your priorities aligned with the vision and purpose of something greater than yourself. Having a Faith Perspective gives you the ability to understand that the high road is really the best way.
Have an Attitude of Gratitude. Adversity comes to everyone, regardless of station in life. The number one killer of passion is an unthankful spirit so we must learn to be grateful in the midst of adversity. By doing that we banish fear and faith will appear. The only way I know to keep your attitude of gratitude is to express it. If you feel it but don’t express it, you will lose it. You need to become intentional about this and do it everyday.
Have an Attitude of Learning and a Teachable Spirit.“If you stop learning today, you stop leading tomorrow” (Howard Hendricks). Everyone makes mistakes and everyone fails. But when you make the commitment to learn from your mistakes and continue, regardless of your failures, you have made the most important decision of your life. You learn much by watching others who do things extremely well. Leaders train continually, working hard not necessarily to be the best, but to be the best they can be. Teachable people are joyful people. They work hard to make a difference by improving themselves. Ask yourself this question; “What am I learning now that will make me better tomorrow?”
Commit to Inner Renewal. Consistent and continual improvement is the legacy of lasting and true leaders. Their focus is always forward and they keep growing, in spite of the resistance they feel from within and without. This renewal happens daily because they do not neglect their daily routine. When you are committed to controlling your choices you make sure that no one crowds your time. Keep your calendar from overwhelming your responsibility to continually renew your passion. Stay focused and don’t allow distractions to defeat your purpose or detour your intentions. If you make this important commitment you can be certain you will stay fresh and full of faith, rather than fatalistic doubt and fear.
Create an Atmosphere of Affirmation. Too often you see people who desire to influence others but end up poisoning the pond rather than cleaning the fountain. They invariably allow their negative emotions to override their faith and they express their doubt and fear rather than their hope for the future. For leaders to bring out the best in situations and people, they need to discover their voice of affirmation. Find someone today to affirm by speaking an encouraging word. Believe in someone else, and not just yourself and what God through grace has done in you. Redemption works for you but also recognizes the potential in others. Redemption sees them as a potter sees the clay and envisions excellence, and begins the lifting process to form in them the values that will transform their future. Redemption perceives people as rough diamonds that need the touch of a master craftsman. Our words can become self-fulfilling prophesies – words like, “I believe in you,” and, “You can do this.” I want to say to the saints of First Pentecostal Church, “We can do this.”
I have learned certain truths that I perceive to be absolutes for leaders and those who want to grow. You can hedge on some principles but these are rock solid, and you must submit to them or your forward progress will be derailed. I have never seen anyone violate these certainties and then accidentally stumble into growth and success. As a matter of fact, I have never seen anyone even hedge on these and last very long in kingdom work. Everyone that is used of God applies them faithfully. It does not mean that they do not have struggles and that God does not apply the necessary pressure to forge in them a new appreciation of their importance, but everyone, sooner or later, realizes they must comply or be eliminated from the picture.
Forgive everyone, every time, for everything. Without the ability to forgive you simply cannot add value to others. I like what Martin Luther King, Jr said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.” You can’t use a list and decide which infraction you will forgive and which ones you will not; that is not true forgiveness. Forgiveness is actually more valuable to the one who forgives than to the one who is forgiven. The first person to which you will add value through forgiveness is yourself. Ghandi stated, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Once you learn to forgive, you can free yourself from the nightmares of the past and lay claim to the dreams of your future. Forgiveness is not an emotional decision; it is a choice that you must make. To forgive is to set a person free and discover the person was you. Buddy Hackett quipped, “I’ve had few arguments with people, but I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you’re carrying a grudge, they’re out dancing.” Bitterness is too heavy a burden for anyone to carry. It will weigh you down and keep you from your destiny. Promises are aborted, destinies are lost, and destruction follows an unforgiving spirit.
Every day matters. What you do every day counts! Integrate a daily focus with a long-term perspective. You have to be intentional about what you do every day and know how it fits the endgame that you have in mind. Acting on and implementing your rule of five is necessary for growth; not only by acknowledging the things you must do every day, but acting on those things. Our destiny is connected to what we do every day. We need a compass to guide us to make the right daily choices. Your compass is your vision and values that guide your mission and purpose. When your activities and your appointments every day begin to support your purpose, then you are moving in the right direction for transformation and true growth. Too many people fail when they are promoted by the Lord because they think they have arrived, when in fact they have only just begun. The key to focus is knowing what to do every day. Knowing how it fits your desired future is what we call perspective. Locating the one thing you need to do now and DOING it is what FOCUS is all about. Find it, do it and reap the benefit. If you are going to fulfill your mission, you must allow your compass to guide you every day.
Psalm 139:16 “Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you. The days of my life, all prepared before I’d lived even one day.”
Everyone needs encouragement. When you learn to give encouragement, you have learned the asset that every successful leader must possess – the ability to accentuate the positive. Encouragement keeps people moving in the right direction. We all have poisoners in our lives who do everything they can to poison our faith. We have self-absorbed people who are too fixated on their own stuff to help anyone else with theirs. People who feed off of negative energy may get others to follow them but they will always stay close to home because they are afraid of new horizons. However, we also have those who are life enhancers and who inspire us to greatness. These people are convinced that a better day is coming and from their life flows a positive energy that is infused into the weary until they become strong. People will go farther than they think they could when someone else thinks they can. Encouragement makes people better and gives them hope that every day matters if they follow through doing the right things. We must learn how to empower people, motivate them and invite them to become extraordinary. Encouragement can turn a life around.
Find your voice and speak faith. When you possess a spirit of expectancy, you will communicate it by finding your voice and it will be evident in everything you say. When you believe that what is right will win you develop a positive view of the future. When you can declare with certainty, knowing that your message will be accepted, then you will expect good things to happen. You must be able to declare with certainty: I have a destiny to fulfill. I have a contribution to make. I have convictions that guide my choices. I have a legacy to leave. You have seen what others cannot see and you are willing to help them find their voice and speak their faith until they become what God wants them to be.
2 Timothy 2:2 “And the instructions you have heard from me along with my witnesses, transmit and entrust as a deposit to reliable and faithful men who will be competent and qualified to reach others also.”
People need the voice of someone who believes that God is able. Learn to speak faith instead of fear. Speaking faith empowers people. People need role models to follow. Speaking faith makes you an elevator that lifts people to a higher level. It energizes them to function at their best once they reach that higher place and they become more because now they are the reason the church is advancing. Their voice is the voice that is making the difference.
God is our helper and He is ready to bring our highest destiny to fulfillment. The Lord Jesus Christ is Lord of all history. Therefore, he has power to overcome your past and produce a different future.
Let’s see if we can find ourselves in the book of Nehemiah. This historical sketch reveals to us some surprising truths that can be applied to our lives today to help rebuild what is broken. Step back with me to a century when the Spirit of God converged the activities of half a dozen kings, powerful prophets, and a captive nation, and produced one of the greatest stories of restoration ever written.
The year of this book begins in 446 B.C. Ninety years have transpired since the Jewish release from Babylon captivity. During that time, 50,000 Jews were released by the Edict of Cyrus, ruler of the Medo Persians. Our God was controlling all of the events, weaving them together to fulfill the greatest prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah, and Haggai.
The Jews were released from their captivity in 536 B.C. Through the ministry of Ezra and the spiritual inspiration of Zechariah and Haggai, the temple was rebuilt and finished by 516 B.C. It was not until 70 years after the completion of the temple that Nehemiah became concerned with the fact that the city had no walls. What good is a spiritual relationship with God, and a life with a temple, when the walls of the city are broken down and the gates are burned with fire?
You can have a relationship with God; lead a normal life, and deep down still be a mass of broken pieces. Nehemiah responded to this need through prayer, weeping, mourning, and fasting. In chapter 1 we find him interceding, in chapter 2 we find him risking his life, in chapter 4 securing their safety, in chapter 5 unselfishly giving his own resources, and in chapter 6 we find him committing to complete the task in spite of the obstacles.
Today, the Holy Ghost acts as the Nehemiah of our restoration. The name Nehemiah means “the consoling breath of God”. It is the ministry of the Holy Ghost that restores and rebuilds our lives. He can rebuild our broken strengths and our weaknesses and lead us past our ignorance into the victory that his word declares we can have.
I believe in the need of the rebirth, but we must come to grips with the fact that we need rebuilding as well. The Comforter (Nehemiah) is a concerned person who is ready and willing to do whatever is necessary to put us back together again. Only through the power of the Holy Ghost can he return to us the ruler-ship and authority that was lost by Adam. It means recovery of self-control, personality, stabilized temperament, and character.
Hanani’s complaint focused in on the embarrassment of a people who definitely had a relationship with God, however, they still had some brokenness that was not yet resolved. First, he fulfilled his word and returned the Jews to their homeland; second, he helped them in rebuilding the temple; finally, with his help, they were able to faithfully worship God at the temple site.
However, what good is a temple when the center of government and all self-control is in shambles? Without a wall the city was open to oppressors. If we have no self-control, we cannot fulfill the purpose God has created us for. Each of us must rebuild our lives out of the rubble of our past sins and mistakes.
Some people wonder why they can come to church and get a God feeling but cannot shut out depressive thoughts or overcome fear; feelings of worthlessness seem to prevail, and they are constantly subdued by temptation. The only way this state can be overcome is when the Holy Ghost reinstates the rule over you.
One thing needs to be remembered – this type of progress takes a tremendous amount of patience and time. Our partner in the rebuilding process is the Holy Ghost (Nehemiah). Our recovery will not be instantly gained through being born again, but will be patiently produced through the power of the Holy Ghost.
So take the time to heal, and recover the blessing of joy and life you have lost. It is God’s will to restore to the Apostolic Church her power and authority over every sickness, problem and crisis that all of us may live to the glory of the one who made it all possible; our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.