A Lunar Lesson in Spiritual Leadership (Part 5)

Five Ways to avoid becoming a “Souler Eclipse”

#1 – Give Glory to God

The very first thing we can do is “give credit where credit is due.” Give all the credit to Jesus (and I mean all of it). Is Jesus getting the glory for what is being done or are we? Are people flooding me with accolades and praise or are they seeing the work “He” is doing through me? I have to be honest, when people start praising me, I drink it up like a kitten lapping up a saucer of cream. As under-shepherds we really need to constantly give the glory to Jesus. Not in a false, cheesy way where self deprecation sounds plastic and fabricated. But in a truly humble God honoring way that draws the flock’s attention to the Great Shepherd.

#2Don’t Be a Control Freak

Don’t try to control and manipulate people. Keep exhorting them to obey Jesus, His Word, and His Spirit (not you). One of the key lessons we’ve learned is that before asking people to make application to a message or Bible study, we have them pray and ask Jesus what He wants them to do in-light of our discussion. Now we’ve put the burden of conviction and application squarely on the shoulders of the Holy Spirit. I don’t want people running around saying. “Well, my mentor told me…” That is the last thing I want. They should be doing what Jesus tells them to do not me. Besides, I make for a real lousy holy spirit.

#3 – Elevate Jesus as the Authority

Constantly point to Jesus. Take a note of how often the name of Jesus is crossing your lips. Is He the first place you go to answer a disciple’s question. And notice I said “A” disciple’s question not “YOUR” disciple. I want people to have a clear vision in their minds that the objective is to become like Jesus (and not me). I recently heard a testimony where the young “convert” stated the organizations name a dozen or more times and never mentioned Jesus once. Now that’s a total “Soular Eclipse!” We really need to point to Jesus as the first and foremost example. He’s the only one who could state with a straight face, “I’ve done exactly what the Father wanted Me to do.” (John 5.19) So as you’re making disciples, make disciples of Jesus (not you) and talk about Jesus every chance you get.

#4 – Release Authority to Others

Delegate authority and responsibility as soon as possible. Jesus was the master of delegation. He delegated baptism (John 4.2), Authority over demons, and power to heal (Matthew 10.1). Jesus released authority pretty quickly to those whom we may deem as unqualified. He even sends a man who had just been delivered from a legion of demons to be His ambassador of good news to the Decapolis. What authority or responsibility are we withholding because we think “they may do it or say it wrong?” I have a saying; “If you want great followers, be a great leader. If you want great leaders, get out of the way.”

We need to give the “Priesthood of All Believers” more than lip service. (1 Peter 2.5-9, Revelation 1.6, 5.10) If we are going to move out of the way and multiply spiritual leadership, the priesthood of all believers needs to become our end-state for our leadership development. That’s what Jesus did! He was in the habit of turning fish into fishermen, sheep into shepherds, and ordinary people into priests.

#5 – Don’t Put Someone Else on a Pedestal

The last point is really about not letting anyone become your “Soular Eclipse.” Don’t let any other person or thing compete for your loyalty and affection to Jesus. He deserves first place and there really should be no close second. Hero worship is rampant in our culture. Athletes, models, movie stars, authors, and even the favorite YouTuber can be idolized as a god. But we as Christians would never set such a low bar for a hero. No, we would rather have our favorite preacher, pastor, mentor, or some other Christian celebrity. It’s amazing how quickly we can elevate someone or something to “god-status.” We even do this with other people in the Bible. The writer of Hebrews warns against elevating Moses or angels above that of the person of Christ. (Hebrews 1-3) And on the mount of Transfiguration Peter wants to build three tabernacles, one for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. God the Father breaks into the conversation with, “This is my Son, my Chosen ONE; listen to HIM!” (Luke 9.35, Emphasis mine)

Now I’m going to go from preaching to meddling. I think in these days we are dangerously close to elevating the Apostle Paul above Jesus. Listen very carefully as people answer questions, use Scripture to solve problems, preach about most often, model their ministries most after. I’m just saying. Be careful! The only one that should be on the throne in your heart is Jesus.

Conclusion

So we have looked at the “Soular Eclipse” from three angles;

– Bad examples of becoming an eclipse

– Good examples of how not to be an eclipse

– Five ways to avoid becoming an eclipse ourselves

It is clear from the Bible that we as spiritual leaders and disciple makers need to be very careful not to get in the way (or put our leaders in the way). I’m not saying we shouldn’t reverence and honor spiritual leaders (1 Thessalonians 5.12-13, 1 Timothy 5.17, Hebrews 13.7) and even obey them (Hebrews 13.17). But I am saying if we ever place our leaders in a position of preeminence above God or heaven forbid we ourselves become that “toad in the road,” we are going to have huge problems.

It’s kind of like introducing two people for the first time. You don’t stand between them and point over your back and say, “Bill this is Joe. Joe, Bill.”And then they have to awkwardly try to shake hands around you. No, we stand to the side so that they can see one another and get to know one another without us getting in the way. We need to have our spiritual leadership rightly aligned in our lives and the lives of others.

I remember when I was a kid and saw the moon during daylight for the first time. It blew my mind! I said to myself, “That’s so cool! The sun is up and I can see the moon too! Is that supposed to happen?” Why yes, it actually happens like clockwork as the earth orbits the sun and the moon orbits the earth. Everything is as it should be. (And I might add, so is a solar eclipse. But never a “Soular Eclipse”) You know what else is cool? When we see spiritual leaders who are rightly aligned with the Son and clearly reflect His glory to His disciples. This is what we were designed to do and this is our challenge as we lead our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith.

A Lunar Lesson in Spiritual Leadership (Part 4)

Jesus Christ – Philippians 2.5-11

I saved the best for last; Jesus Himself is the quintessential example of how not to become a “Soular Eclipse.” Now before I start unpacking this, let me give you my disclaimers. First, I know that any illustration trying to express the deity and humanity of Christ is going to fall short in describing the mind blowing union of God and Man. Second, I completely believe that Jesus has always been 100% God and will always be 100% God as the second person of the Trinity and at no time was He anything less than deity. Third, I believe that Jesus the Messiah is God incarnate and is 100% human. Now that have tried to express my Christology, let me venture into some tricky territory with my illustration.

Part of Jesus’s purpose in coming as a man was to be an example of what all we were meant to be as “image bearers’ of God. In other words, He meant to show us how it’s done. He would carry out the design of man with perfection not only to show it could be done but how to do it. He lived a life of perfect alignment with the Father by not only NOT doing the things we shouldn’t do but by DOing the things we should do. He lived out His purpose perfectly. This not only made Him an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of mankind, it made Him the ultimate example to follow. Basically, Jesus became the perfect full moon reflecting the glorious light of the sun (the Father). That part we readily get. Of course, Jesus was the light of the world. Of course, Jesus did exactly what the Father told Him to do. Of course, Jesus reflected no light of His own… (Sound of screeching record, FULL STOP). Whoa, wait just a minute! I thought you said you believed Jesus is God?! I did. Let’s look at Philippians 2.5-11.

Philippians 2.5-11Observations
Verse 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ JesusThe Apostle Paul is clearly pointing to Jesus as an example to follow. In this particular passage it is to mimic Jesus’s attitude.
Verse 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be graspedPaul expresses his conviction the Jesus is definitely God but Jesus had a specific attitude about being God. Jesus didn’t count His equality with God a thing grasped, taken hold of, tapped into.
Verse 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.Jesus emptied Himself. Some take this to mean He stopped being God for a time while on earth and then started being God again after the ascension. That’s some Bad Theology. Jesus has been and will always will be 100% God. Let’s keep it in the realm of what Paul suggests in the beginning. “Have this attitude…” Jesus’s attitude was “I came here as a man, I’m going to act like a man. I’m going to show the people how to love God and love people as man.”
Verse 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.The key is humility. He not only humbled Himself before God the Father, He humbled Himself before us. It’s like Superman disguising himself as Clark Kent but the difference is He only lived as Clark Kent and never tapped into His super powers (even when He was dying on a cross). You may ask, well how did He do all those miracles than? By being in alignment with the Father. These are the same miracles His disciples did when they aligned themselves with the Father in Jesus name.
Verses 9-11 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.And what is the result? Exaltation! Remember the lesson the Apostle Peter learned? If you humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, you’ll be exalted at the proper time (1 Peter 5.5-6). And who did Peter learn this from? Who was the example to follow? JESUS!

So Jesus humbled Himself by coming in the form of man in complete submission to the Father, and surrendered the right and privileged to exercise His divine power at anytime between His birth and Death on a cross. (Mark 10.45, John 5.19,30, 6.38) He perfectly reflected the Father’s glory while suppressing His own. (John 17.1- 5) He never supplanted the Father’s leadership in peoples lives to elevate Himself. With all power and authority, He never became a “Soular Eclipse.” He is our ultimate example of One being in spiritual leadership under God’s and yet not getting in the way.

And now how has the Father exalted Jesus? It’s worth reading again because this is the One whom we should avoid eclipsing at all costs;

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2.9-11)

To be continued…

A Lunar Lesson in Spiritual Leadership (Part 3)

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Good Biblical Examples of Those Who Avoided Becoming a “Soular Eclipse”

So what about some good examples in the Bible? Are there people who avoided this pitfall? You bet there are! Here’s some folks that sidestepped the debacle of becoming a “Soular Eclipse.”

Gideon – Judges 6-8.23

The Midianites were so oppressive that the Children of Israel described them like “locusts” that would come in and devastate the land. Israel had to hide their crops from their marauding war parties because the enemy would steal everything in sight. Gideon was doing just that. He was hiding in a wine press beating out wheat. The Angel of the LORD shows up and addresses him as “Mighty Warrior!” Gideon must of looked around and pointed to himself saying, “Who me? Uh, you got the wrong guy. You see if I were so mighty I wouldn’t be hiding in a wine press sucking up all this dust by beating wheat in an enclosed area. No, you’re looking Amieluhad down the street.” Fast forward a little bit of time and we see that Gideon was indeed a “mighty warrior” as the angel said. He had several successful military campaigns under his belt against an overwhelming adversary. He had evidently grown into quite the leader because the people come to him and say; “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” (Judges 8.22) Gideon saw it coming. The temptation was right in front of him and he responds; “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.” (Judges 8.23) He sidestepped the alluring offer and took his rightful place in being a simple reflection of God’s glory.

John the Baptist – John 3.22-30

So Jesus and John were baptizing people in the same region because there was plenty of water. John’s disciples are looking over their shoulders and notice Jesus and His guys are baptizing a lot more people than John. I can picture them coming to John with their bottom lip puffed out and pouting; “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.” (v26) Now John has some choices to make. “Let’s see here, we could beat the bushes harder and scare up some more baptizees, or double down on our advertising, or yeah, I got it! We could demonize Jesus’ ministry (like the Scribes and Pharisees) and rake in the poor miss guided sheep for ourselves. I mean, how am I going to justify my worth to the people following me?” No. That would be the way we might respond. Not John. He sees the “Soular Eclipse” coming a mile away. Notice he uses a different metaphor to explain the same concept.

A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3.27-30)

John uses the contrast between Bridegroom and His friend. It’s not for the friend to try to steal the show on the Bridegrooms wedding day. Nope, all attention is focused on the Bride and the Groom. But certainly all the smiling and joyful faces of the wedding party are a reflection of the new couples matrimony. John the Baptist is no “Soular Eclipse.”

Peter – 1 Peter 5.1-11

I love to review Peter’s journey as a leader. It’s so relatable to my own journey. Peter, the strong, rough and ready fisherman. Peter, a natural born leader with a lot of rough edges. Peter, Ready, Fire, Aim. Peter, Open mouth, Insert foot. Peter, the rebuker of the Son of God (Yikes). And lastly, Peter the Denier of Jesus and the Restored by the Same. As we watch this young leader through the gospels we see him failing forward. By the Book of Acts, he is a changed man, although not perfect. (Gal 2.11-14) But I think the absolute crescendo of Peter’s leadership development is found in his address to the elders in his first letter. (1 Peter 5.1-11)

He starts with an exhortation to the elders and the most important part is that even sandwiched in between his credentials you find this very significant statement; “as your fellow elder.” Peter didn’t have to add that part. He had position as the Apostle of the Apostles. He could have easily postured himself as the big kahuna! But he doesn’t. He exhorts them as an equal, a fellow elder.

And what is the content of this exhortation? Pointers from his well documented failures. Let’s pick them out of the text.

Exhortation (1 Peter 5.2-11)Previous Failure and/or Restoration
Shepherd the flock of God among you (v 2a)Remember the discussion on the Sea of Galilee after Peter’s denial of the Lord Jesus? “Peter do you love Me, Feed my sheep.” (John 21.15-17)
exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God (v 2b)Remember when Jesus rebukes Peter; “Get behind me Satan. You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Matthew 16.23)
nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge (v 3a) Remember the disciples arguing about “Who’s among them was the greatest?” Jesus responds with, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant… (Matthew 20.25-26)
But proving to be examples to the flock (v 3b) Remember when Jesus is setting an example of servant leadership by washing the disciples feet and Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Embarrassed and afraid Peter responds, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” (John 13.5-11)
You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, (v 5-6) Remember when Jesus tells His disciples they will abandon Him and Peter pipes in Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You. I will go to death with You…” and then he denies Him. (Matthew 26.31-35) Jesus’s prediction came true.
casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (v 7)Remember when Jesus talked about true discipleship being willing to give up all you have and Peter was a bit worried about his reward? He asks Jesus,What about us? We’ve left everything and followed You?” And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19.27-29) What will we get? 100 Fold in this life and the life to come.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (v 8) Remember when Jesus told Peter; Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22.31-32) Certainly, he has these words ringing in his ears.
But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (v 9-10)And finally, remember when Peter did fail so miserably and yet Jesus, the God of all grace, restores him by the Sea of Galilee by once again giving him identity and purpose and commands him (once again) “Follow Me.” (John 21.19)

I’m sure Peter reflected on these things in his life. He saw the circle being completed over and over again. Jesus restores, gives purpose, and launches him into new levels of leadership and fruitfulness. But he is always being reminded; He is God and we are not. He is perfect and we are not. Point people to Him. Peter had some things to say about leadership but most of it came out of previous defeats and failure. He had been bloodied in combat and he is instructing his fellow soldiers; avoid these tactical mistakes. And the biggest mistakes he made is when he got to big for his britches and almost becomes a “Soular Eclipse.” He ends up being humbled and getting out of the way of the Son.

To be continued…

A Lunar Lesson in Spiritual Leadership (Part 2)

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A Lunar Lesson in Spiritual Leadership (Part 1)

What does a “Soular Eclipse” look like?

Let me give you some attributes of a person who’s becoming a “Soular Eclipse.”

  • Glory Hog
  • Manipulator
  • Self-Seeking
  • Absent Minded
  • Self-absorbed
  • Hypocrite
  • Arrogant
  • Ambitious
  • Egocentric
  • Shortsighted
  • Self-Centered
  • Pompous
  • Conceited
  • Narcissistic
  • And I saved the best for last… Downright Selfish

Well now, that’s a bit convicting isn’t it. We can see a little of ourselves somewhere in that list. Several Biblical characters come to mind when I think of classic examples of “Soular Eclipses.”

The Scribes and Pharisees – Matthew 23.1-36

If you want to see Jesus come off the top ropes, put Him in the presence of some self-righteous people. In Matthew 23 Jesus confronts the Scribes and Pharisees with, what we might call, uncharacteristic harshness. His litany of adjectives include; hypocrites, sons of Hell, blind guides, blind men, blind Pharisees, fools, whitewashed tombs, serpents, brood of vipers, and murderers. Wow! What got Jesus so spun up? The religious leaders of the day were obscuring the glory of God for the sake of their own. They were posers, pretending to be godly with their garb, rituals, and platitudes. But it was all a scam. They were actually drawing attention to themselves and away from the LORD. They had exalted themselves and Jesus says the next inevitable step is to be humbled (by God). They had become a “Soular Eclipse.”

Nebuchadnezzar – Daniel 4.1-37

King Nebuchadnezzar begins by worshiping God and then flashes back to a story that precipitates his praise. He tells the story about a puzzling dream he had about a tree and an angel with a warning. He sends for Daniel, the man of God, who can interpret such dreams. As he hears the dream, Daniel is immediately place in an awkward and very uncomfortable position. His interpretation reveals that the tree in the dream represents the king himself and the warning is for him. It was a glorious tree but because of it’s pride, it is cut down to a mere stump and it endures the extreme elements. The Angel makes a proclamation and warning; That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind (v17). Like the tree, King Nebuchadnezzar has been exalted but will soon be cut down due to his arrogance. Daniel begs the king to repent and for a time Nebuchadnezzar seems to be safe. But one day as he walks on to his balcony and surveys his kingdom, his head and heart swell with pride and the dream comes to pass. Nebuchadnezzar degenerates into a senseless being and lives in the fields like an animal. He is assailed by the elements and becomes a horror to look at. And after the appointed time of discipline his reason returns and he humbles himself and exalts God. When the creation gives rightful credit to the Creator, the king’s kingdom and authority are restored. As he praises the King of Heaven he acknowledges, “He is able to humble those who walk in pride” (v37). Nebuchadnezzar thoroughly regretted becoming a “Soular Eclipse.”

Adam and Eve – Genesis 3.1-7

This problem is as old as the Garden of Eden itself. The serpent tempted Eve with this very sly and deceiving statement; “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (v4-5) Wait! What? I thought Adam and Eve were already like God having been made in His image? Exactly! But the serpent’s temptation was for much much more. He was implying that humans can be just like God, an equal. It basically meant that now that we’re equals, we can run our own lives the way we want. Do you see the “Soular Eclipse” happening here. It’s very subtle but just as dangerous nonetheless! Speaking of subtle, notice how Satan was the actual “Soular Eclipse?” Adam and Eve didn’t get tricked in to becoming their own gods. They got snookered into making the devil their god, their king. Adam and Eve’s sin now casts a shadow through the ages. That’s why we need to be “rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought in to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” (John 12.46, Acts 26.18, Ephesians 5.8, Colossians 1.13-14, 1 Peter 2.9) Satan never really wanted man to be god. He has big plans for himself.

Satan – Isaiah 14:12-15

And the serpent, Satan, himself tried to pull this shenanigan long before he bamboozled Adam and Eve. Look at the account in Isaiah and see for yourself;


“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.

Satan had become a “Soular Eclipse.” But the results are always the same. Humiliation. You try to eclipse God and you are asking for a boatload of trouble. For believers, it comes in the harshest discipline. For those who aren’t in the kingdom it will cost them their soul. A cautionary note here. It’s very difficult for us to distinguish between those who are and who aren’t in the kingdom with certainty. Maybe this is what Jesus is talking about when He gives this very sobering warning to those listening to Him;

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”(Matthew 7.21-23)

To be continued…

A Lunar Lesson in Spiritual Leadership (Part 1)

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When I was an instructor at the US Army’s Mountain Ranger Camp, we spent much of our time training the Ranger students at night. Now if you’re imagining a lighted classroom with a whiteboard, you’re a little off. The training was done in the heavily forested North Georgia Mountains. Sometimes the vegetation was so thick you would have to crawl through the underbrush on your hands and knees. (Every Ranger graduate will cringe at the mention of “Mountain Laurel”) This was tough on both student and instructor especially at night when there was no moon light. We called these nights “Zero Illumination.” Tripping over every stump, being grabbed by every branch, and being unexpectedly stuck in the eye four or five times a night made for a torturous trek up and down the mountains. (Obviously this is before every soldier had the luxury of having night vision goggles) It was slow, painful, and maddening. Unless of course, we had moonlight on a cloudless night. This was a rare treat to be able to move without going through nature’s gauntlet. And in the winter time, with no leaves on the trees and a full moon, it was pure heaven. It was almost as easy as walking in the woods during the day.

No wonder ancient people (and some contemporary) worshiped the moon. It’s beauty is majestic. It’s flight across the star glittered sky is magnificent. And it’s illumination on nights you rather not stumble around in the dark, essential! But its well worth reminding ourselves that the moon is the moon and not the sun. The brilliance of the moon is merely a reflection. The moon has no inherent light of its own. It’s just mirroring the glory of the Sol.

I see direct parallels between a well lit moon and spiritual leadership. As leaders, we are to be mirrors of the Son’s glory. We have no inherent glory in ourselves, no light but that which is given to us by God. We must acknowledge our proper place in the spiritual solar system of the kingdom. We can make two very dangerous mistakes;

1. Esteeming a leader so much that they distract us from Jesus Christ. Or even worse…

2. Letting others esteem us so much we become a distraction ourselves.

Either way we create a “SOULAR Eclipse” (Pun intended) What do I mean?

When the earth totally blocks the light of the sun from the moon, its known as a lunar eclipse.

When the moon gets in the way of the sun’s light, its known as a solar eclipse.

And when a spiritual leader gets in the way of the Son’s light, its known as a “Soular Eclipse” (as stated in my little dictionary of made up words).

When we as spiritual leaders begin to eclipse the glory of Jesus Christ by taking it for ourselves or let others put us on a pedestal, not only is our soul in danger but the souls of those we are trying to lead toward Christ.

So let’s answer three questions;

  1. What does a “Soular Eclipse” look like?
  2. What are some good examples of spiritual leadership in the Bible?
  3. What should I do to keep from becoming a “Soular Eclipse?”

To be continued…

Unique Alignment

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Most people know the story about David and Goliath but few know the story within the story. David is standing before King Saul explaining his confidence in his ability to slay the Philistine giant. Saul decides, “If the boy is going out to war, he ought to dress the part.” So he puts his tunic, armor, and sword on David. The youth walks around looking ridiculous in the ill fitted combat gear and declares, “Uh, I’m gonna pass on the battle rattle and go fight light.” (First Samuel 17.32-40 CWV-Chuck Wood Version) He runs out, pegs Goliath between the eyes with a small rock, and cuts off the enemy’s head with his own sword.

Here’s my point. Someone else’s armor (their alignment with God) might not fit you all that well. And although there are many areas in which will all serve God in principle (we all worship, obey, share the gospel, make disciples, etc…) it’s probably going to look unique and tailor made to each individual based on personalities, gifting, and seasons of life.

So let’s look at some Scripture that points to our unique personalities, gifting, and seasons of life.

Uniquely Crafted by God

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1.5)

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. (Psalm 139.13-16)

Uniquely Gifted

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2.10)

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly… (Romans 12.4-6a)

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (First Corinthians 12.11)

Unique Seasons of Life

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1.3)

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven— (Ecclesiastes 3.1)

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1.6)

So why is this so important? We’ve all seen people (and maybe we’ve made this mistake ourselves) trying so hard to be like someone else. It’s either so fake or awkward that it’s almost comical. We need to take some advice from the age old philosopher, Socrates, when he said “Know Thyself.” Even as we are trying to become more like Jesus, we will see designed differences. If we study ourselves in light of the Scriptures and our uniqueness in the eyes of God, we will be doing only what we are uniquely designed to do. This will bring more clarity and alignment to our lives.

Are we trying to be like someone else so much we are robbing the kingdom of our unique contribution? Are we cramming others into our “method mold” instead of majoring on Biblical principles?

Alignment with the Creator

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Wham! The pothole was so deep I thought I was on my way to China! My steering wheel was going crazy and when I got on the highway I thought the whole car was falling apart. You guessed it, my steering had been knocked out of alignment. I wouldn’t be making a trip to the Orient but I would be visiting a mechanic ASAP.

Sometimes life can start to shimmy, drift, or even feel like the whole thing is coming apart. And like the wheels on a car, one of the main reasons is a lack of alignment with God.

You only have to go back to the beginning to see that God always intended us to be aligned with Him;

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1.27)

One of the fundamental mistakes we make is when we take matters into our own hands and align ourselves with anything else but our Creator. Ultimately, it leads to an identity crises (Which has become more than evident today with the whole gender/pronoun debacle). It all started to breakdown back in the garden when Adam and Eve decided align themselves with their own ways (which was really Satan’s ways – Genesis 3).

But Jesus is not only the Great Shepherd but He’s also the Great Mechanic. He has provided a way to be realigned with God and solve our identity crisis. Basically, we let Him take the steering wheel of our life. Consider the following Scriptures;

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2.20)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10.10-11)

But just like checking the alignment on your car, we must periodically check our alignment with God (and it’s probably a good idea to check daily). One of the ways we can do this is by reading and studying the Word of God daily. I know that if I line my life up with His Word and His ways, I’m going to be in perfect alignment. Oh, we’ll still hit some potholes a long the way but the whole thing is not going to veer off into a ditch. How’s your alignment with God going?

Next time we’ll talk about our specific alignment based on our personality, gifts, station in life, etc…