Lately I’ve been on a kick. When I run across a verse that I’ve known since my childhood, I’ll take some time to read through the entire chapter. Every time I do this I am blown away by God’s Word. Sometimes the meaning of the verse changes, others the meaning of the verse becomes even more impactful.
Most recently this happened with Isaiah 40. Most people are familiar with Is 40:7-8 (the grass withers and the flower fades) and Is 40:30-31 (even youths grow tired and weary…). These verses are surrounded by a prophecy about the coming of Christ and the magnificent character of God. In the past 2-3 weeks I’ve read and reread the entire chapter. As a result, I am in awe of the Holy One. No one compares to Him. Nothing holds a candle to His existence. He is in control and is Sovereign.
This past summer, my small group read Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick. It radically changed my understanding of the Gospel. Each time I think about the Gospel I ask myself, “how did I miss this? How did I not get the Gospel after hearing it for 20+ years?”
The gospel says:
- I can’t earn God’s acceptance because I am so incredibly flawed – more flawed than I can even imagine.
- God’s love for me is so vast that He made the ultimate sacrifice:
- His Son humbled himself, lived the life I should be living,
- died to pay the price for the fact that I’m not living the sinless life I should be and
- was raised from the dead to set me free from the very sin that separates me from God.
Right now I’m reading Elyse’s devotional, Comforts from the Cross. The topic for today is “Glory to God Alone.”
This concept, that glory belongs only to God, gave some insight into why Isaiah 40 has resonated so deeply with my soul: My sin nature wants glory for myself. I want to prove that I can earn God’s love and acceptance. I ignore the truth of the Gospel, wrongfully believing that I can be acceptable to God by trying really hard. I proudly forget how insignificant I truly am and think that I can earn myself a place in the presence of God. But Isaiah 40 reminds me that I am nothing in comparison to God.
That’s where the sweetness of the Gospel comes in: I am nothing, but He values me (even when I want to steal His glory for myself) so much that He has sacrificed what He holds dear (His son) so that I can be with Him. Talk about mind-blowing.
This article by Carey Nieuwhof is incredible: Seven Ways for Young Leaders to Overcome the Slacker Label. I think the content is a great encouragement/reminder for anyone who wants to succeed professionally.
His seven ways (which I recommend you read!) are:
- Show up early
- Show up prepared
- Develop a system for capturing to-dos with 100% accuracy
- Take notes
- Think productivity, not hours
- Advance the mission
- Ask for direct feedback
To these awesomely practical tips, I would add a few ideas that are more about skills that are developed over time:
- Identify solutions. When you go to work there will doubtless be things that are not working right. Many people become frustrated, start complaining or simply disengage because of organizational or process-related issues. By seeking to identify solutions and championing those solutions with the people who need to approve them, you can set yourself apart as a leader who is committed to the organization and to delivering value.
- Intentionally build relationships with people around you. Invite people to lunch or out for coffee. If you can afford to, buy their drink/meal. Think about questions you want to ask them. Learn as much as you can from other’s experience and perspectives. In the last 10 years. Identify people who have characteristics you want to emulate and intentionally pursue time with them. Doing this has changed who I am as a person and as a worker. I’ll be sharing about what I’ve learned as part of my Wall of Wisdom series.
- Learn active listening skills. Listening isn’t instinctive or even easy. Seek to understand what people mean more than what they say. Ask clarifying questions. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the value of listening. When I graduated from High School one of my mentors shared with me that the skill of listening was the most valuable tool to develop. I’ll be honest, I really didn’t get what she was saying. Then in the last few years it started to click I realized how on-target she was.
- Respect others, especially those in authority. Learning to respect others has been a long journey for me. The concept finally clicked when I read Created in God’s Image by Anthony Hoekema. The idea that everyone deserves respect simply because they are made in God’s image continues to rock my world. I have spent a lot of prayer time wrestling with Romans 13:1-7 about submission to authority. According to this passage God has specifically given individuals the authority they have. When I wrestle with a leader’s decision I always return to this concept, praying for wisdom on when to champion a different idea or when to accept their decision.
What about you? What skills do you think young leaders need to develop?