Dr. Henry Cloud wrote a significant book entitled Necessary Endings. Cloud wrote, “When we fail to end things well, we are destined to repeat the mistakes that keep us from moving on.” He shares observations why pruning may be essential for an organization to move forward; why many leaders struggle to understand that endings are a natural season in life; the difference between pain with a purpose and pain for no good reason; hoping versus wishing; three kinds of people; creating urgency and motivation for change; how to handle resistance; and, many other excellent insights that best position leaders to succeed in the future.
Zechariah 7:9—“The LORD of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another.”
It is cold outside—twelve degrees above zero. Snow is on the ground and from inside my office window it looks beautiful. It’s a matter of perspective. December can be a wonderful time of warmth for many people; a chance to be with family, to take a break from work and to enjoy each other’s company. But I could equally write that this month is a frozen, depressing period for many people; the reminder that loved ones are gone, unemployment a reality, and a feeling that few care or understand.
Have you ever gone through periods in your life where you knew what God wanted you to do but were afraid to obey because of circumstances? I have a friend whose marriage is going badly. He knows from the counsel he has received and from God’s Word that divorce is wrong and, in his situation, not an option. But his wife treats him badly and he is tired of trying to improve their relationship. He is reluctant to apply any advice he receives. He says it is time he took care of himself and was free to do what he wants to do. So he filed for divorce and bought a new car thinking now his problems should end.
The top supervisor position in a Brigade I will be commanding opens at the end of the month. A team of four of us conducted interviews with three job applicants. One of the individuals on the hiring team, Jack,* clearly favored one of the applicants and pressured the rest of us to hire her. His choice did the best job fielding questions and technically seemed the most competent for the job. By the end of the interviews the team leaned towards hiring her. Inwardly I did not feel comfortable selecting her. It felt like we were rushing to make a hire—squeezed by time and loyalty to select a woman who had served in our organization a long time. I silently asked God for His help that we would do the right thing. Instead of immediately offering her the position I gained approval from the other three leaders to conduct a more thorough background check.
She said I should go back home to my mother. It seemed like the logical thing to do. I mean why travel to a place I’ve never been to live with people I don’t know? My husband, Kilion died. Life was tough. It was like all my dreams just disintegrated into tiny, bitter ashes. I wanted to do the right thing but what was the right thing to do?
Samson amazingly typified the nation of Israel. He was specially chosen by God, and empowered with eye-popping strength. Yet, like his countrymen, he chose the cravings of his flesh and failed miserably. What prompted the man set apart for God to make decisions set apart from God?
The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single day in the history of the United States. On September 17, 1862, 23,110 casualties littered the ground fought between Confederate and Union Armies. Antietam is a small river in the state of Maryland close to West Virginia and Pennsylvania. As I walked the battleground today, I could not help but think of all of the lives lost and the folly of a leader who could have ended the Civil War but instead prolonged it.
By June of 1997 our church was $11,000 in debt to a property owner who raised our maintenance costs. Because of the $3000 monthly property bill I went six months without a salary as the pastor. God sustained my family through the generosity of a senior citizen who attended Horizon Community Church. An opportunity arose for us to merge with another wonderful church that served in a nearby community and, like ourselves, was about five years old. We prayed. We held several meetings. I championed the plan and was supported by many people who eagerly shared Scripture and a sense that the Holy Spirit was directing us. It seemed that God had given us a great opportunity. So we dissolved and were absorbed into a larger, healthier body of believers.
Remember Moses? He has to rank as one of the greatest leaders of all time. This sheepherder did all he could to avoid his holy calling to free his enslaved countrymen and lead them into the land God promised the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 6:8). He took well over a million people with countless animals out of Egypt for forty years wandering across harsh deserts where food and water were scarce. He had a phenomenal friendship with God which afforded him incredible power and the confidence to lead. Despite the heartaches of dealing with whining rebels, he passionately set out to accomplish a compelling mission.
My parents were missionaries which meant that we didn’t often see members of our extended family. One year we took a trip to Washington and stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Erickson. My cousins happened also to be there and we spent great time playing together and competing. Loren and I, as the oldest, got to stay in Grandpa’s Winnebago parked just outside their home. One night Loren decided to teach me a game I’d never played—strip poker.
Leaning against the gymnasium wall, Bob and I talked about our children and their involvement in sports. Between carting his kids to Cub Scouts, his work and everything else, his life sounded complex. Life in our land is like walking into Circuit City and seeing 15 different channels at the same time in the television section, while we talk on our cellular phones and wave at the sales clerk we know across the room. Isn’t it comforting that no matter how fast the globe spins, no matter what level of activity we engage in, Jesus remains the same!
Nehemiah 9:19-21--You did not abandon them in the wilderness because of Your great compassion. During the day the pillar of cloud never turned away from them, guiding them on their journey. And during the night the pillar of fire illuminated the way they should go. You sent Your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold Your manna from their mouths, and You gave them water for their thirst. You provided for them in the wilderness 40 years and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell.
Man’s perceptions are often not in line with God’s intentions. Had Jesus chosen to heed the opinions of his key men, the dynamic dozen when they:
2 Timothy 2:20,21--Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver bowls, but also those of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.