Tag Archives: Leadership

What’s Better than Improvising?

improvise

Sometimes you get in a bind and you have to figure something out. You’ve been there—maybe you are there right now! There’s some problem or uncomfortable situation that must be addressed.

If you’re behaving cowardly, you hide and make excuses.
If  you’re procrastinating, you find a way to push it off for later.
If you’re easily distracted, you find something else—anything else—to deal with to make the real issue fade into the distance.

If you’re thoughtful, you make a plan.
If you’re resourceful, you find a book or person to help you.
If you’re creative, you improvise. You take what you have and make up a solution.

Usually improvising is a good thing. It leads to all sorts of inventions and is generally a good and useful way to approach problems. However, there is something better than improvising.

After all improvising tends to be short-sighted. You scratch together a fix that works for now but can create problems for later. You patch together a solution that really may not address the underlying causes which can make the underlying cause grow stronger whilst you pretend that the cool, new “fix” you concocted has laid that problem issue to rest.

What if there was a way to resolve in a more permanent way an issue? What if there was a way to truly address the symptoms and the cause? Before I give you my two cents of a solution. I want to point you to a story in Scripture that got me thinking in this vein.

Check out 1 Samuel 26 and 27. The main character is David. He is on the run from Saul, emotionally stretched thin (his first wife has been given to another man, he now has two wives in her place), surrounded by people that he loves who don’t understand his heart (they keep telling him to kill Saul; he keeps telling them that Saul is God’s anointed). In this perfect storm of emotions, David sighs in exhaustion and frustration the words of 1 Samuel 27:1: “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.”

The Philistines are sworn enemies of Israel. In fact, just a few chapters ago (1 Sam. 21:10-15), David had the bright idea to go to the Philistine king Achish with the sword of the fallen Philistine hero Goliath in tow. He was lucky to escape that bad decision with his life! Once the servants of Achish saw who it was, they said, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” Realizing the folly of his decision, David went into an improv as a deranged man who was ultimately thrown out of Achish’s presence.

So, this time around, David thinks things will be different. He is repugnant to the Israelite king, Saul. He is on the run with a band of 600 thugs. His fighting force is feared and formidable. On this backdrop Achish decides that it wouldn’t be so bad to have David as a servant rather than an enemy so he allows David and his men to stay in the capital city with him as an elite mercenary force that will help the Philistines get revenge against Israel. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. David’s loyalties to the God and people of Israel are as strong as ever. Each day away from the tangible reminders of God’s presence—the temple, the altar, the sacrifices, the Hebrew people—is a day filled with sorrow for David.

But Achish’s opportunism gets the better hand over his judgment and he gives David a town to live in, Ziklag. While in Ziklag, David and his men perform numerous raids on clans that were not an immediate threat to Israel. At the end of each raid, he lies to Achish about the adventures of the day and has to kill every man, woman and child in the preyed upon city to make sure the survivors don’t rat him out. It’s a bloody, fearful, secretive life for 16 months until one day everything comes to a head.

The Philistines see their chance to go up to war against Israel and Achish wants David and the boys to fight on their side. David, obliged to the Philistine king, agrees. Imagine the scene on the battlefield—Israel’s greatest champion shedding the blood of the men he once led and defended. What a travesty! Thankfully, God’s sovereignty stops this train wreck of a plan. The Philistine kings, distrustful of David, forbid him to go out to war with them even though David and his men have marched to the edge of the battlefield. David’s 600 return home to find that their city has been raided by the Amalekites.

Could this have been avoided? Maybe! Imagine if David, instead of throwing his hands up in desperation had sought the Lord on whether or not to go to Achish for shelter. I think that David improvised when he was in a tight spot and I can relate. How many times, in trouble or trial, have I made a snap decision rather than trusting God?

Here’s the whole point—what’s better than improvising? Getting direction from God! It may take longer than you’d like and the answer will probably be different than you’d choose, but ultimately, it is what’s best.

Joshua 1: Called & Equipped

Some of the stories in the Old Testament are just astouding. They make you take a second look like, “Did that really happen?!” Yes, it did!!

Joshua 1 is one of those passages. Imagine it—Moses, the revered, grand and great leader of Israel, the Deliverer, the Friend of God,  has passed on and no one knows where he’s buried. The younger apprentice Joshua is thrust into the forefront with great challenges ahead of the nation of Israel and few allies. What to do!?

I can imagine Joshua was nervous and insecure. He had experienced victories before but never as the man. There’s something different about performing under a new set of expectations. There’s something different about being the guy in charge. All of a sudden there are unspoken expectations about how you’re supposed to behave and what you’re supposed to know and who you’re supposed to be. People relate to you differently and it’s not all honor for your position—some folks think you can give them something they want.

Joshua’s transition also had several positives. His predecessor Moses had also been his mentor. Joshua had served alongside Moses for many years and been battle-tested and affirmed by Moses in front of all the people. Moses had left a clear plan of succession such that the people expected him to take over the leadership role from Moses. But perhaps the most important aspect of his succession was that the Lord had called and equipped him for the context that the Lord put him in.

Called — Taking a leadership post in service to the Lord is such a holy and difficult task that no one should do it presumptuously. That is to say, you shouldn’t appoint yourself where God has not appointed you. Desiring a leadership position is a good thing but the path to fulfilling that desire should be one paved by God. It may turn out that God has an altogether different path in mind for you anyway? Be open to his calling in your life.

How do you know what God is calling you to? Well, like Elijah, it probably won’t come in a violent windstorm, earthquake or fire, it may not come in a dream in the night or a vision by day, but it will come.

Listen.

Be still inside. Let your anxious thoughts be ceased in the wonder of God and His presence. As you lose yourself in worship (not just the congregational singing kind, but the lifestyle characterized by a conscious focus on God), you will find your identity (you are a son of God) and your purpose (to know God and to make Him known) and your calling (this is your specific way of expressing the identity and purpose God has for you).

Equipped — Like a good leader, God equips us with what we need for the journey and assignment he has for us. Consider these passages that reveal just what Joshua needed most:

Friend, if God has called you, He has equipped you. Take comfort in this fact and put your confidence in Him.

A PRAYER: Lord, I thank You that You have given me everything I need to fulfill the assignment before me. The giants are opposing me. Those who should have my back question my ability to lead. There are so many missing pieces between where I am now and where I believe you want to take me. Yet, you have called me and I am equipped. Lead me. Stay with me. Help me. Father, I know that You love me and work in all things for my good. Jesus, all authority is Your’s and I thank You that You lead me in triumph. Holy Spirit, you comfort me in every distress and are ever-present with me. Therefore, my heart will trust in the Lord..