My Life for Yours

(I thought I might share this devotion again. I wrote it a few years ago.)

John 12:24-26

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. [25] The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. [26] Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

In our scripture Jesus is teaching his disciples that he is going to die, but that he must if they would live. A kernel of wheat must die if it would produce many seeds.

Why hasn’t reformation and revival broken out across the church at Southside…or any other church around us lately? There are perhaps many reasons, but could one reason be that we are holding on too preciously and tightly to our own lives – unwilling to die – so that we might reproduce many seeds through our deaths? Do we love our lives too much in this world, so much so, that we are actually losing our lives?

My life for yours. Genuine, substitutionary, and sacrificial living. Following and serving our King wherever he may lead…to whatever end. This brings honor from the Father. This glorifies the Father.

My life for yours. Training and nurturing our children in the Lord – when we rise, when we go to bed, as we live throughout the day, when it’s convenient, when it’s inconvenient – making sure that our children are not merely “taught at” but saturated in the things of God each day, all day – because they are eternal beings and heirs of the King. “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Are we leaving a godly legacy to and for our children and our children’s children for a thousand generations? Are we dying so they can live – really live? Can we think outside our individual lives to see how our own deaths will extend the Kingdom of God by producing many seeds? Will we believe the promises of God that he has made regarding faithful, covenantal parenting? My life for yours and for a thousand generations after you. Talk about a payoff!

But this is hard. That’s why it’s called death. Death to self. It is intentional, committed, disciplined. It’s every day, all day. It’s the discipling of our children because it is our joy, blessing, and responsibility before God to do so. Our lives for theirs. The Kingdom of God grows in such ways. Darkness is engulfed by light through such ways. Reformation and revival are ushered in through such faith and obedience. God promises blessings to such as these.

We must die. We must do with less stuff if it means more time with our families. We must wrestle with our children at the end of the day…even when we are tired. We must discipline our children, even when we would rather not. We must cast a God-glorifying vision before our children (and reiterate it every day) of who they could be for Jesus. We have to read great stories to our children (even when we’d rather doze off) so that their imaginations can ignite as they put themselves in the places of the characters in the stories. We have to read to them about the heroes of the faith who have gone before us, so that they might see how others have given themselves for Christ and his Kingdom. We absolutely must teach our children who our God is – his person, plan, power, purpose and so on. We must drive home again and again what the gospel is and is not (after all, we’re not trying to merely make better citizens or “behaviorally correct” robots). We must teach them grace and show them grace. They must learn what it means to know, love, and follow Christ. They have to understand that our faith is a total world and life view that addresses every sphere of life.

We are called to create Christian cultures in our homes though the power of God’s Word and Spirit, that those cultures might spill out into every other sphere of life. This is first and foremost our (the parents’) responsibility, not others…not even the church. Our lives for theirs. We must die so they can live.

Can we let go? Of our wants, things, desires, passions – our very lives? We must if we would find real life – abundant life – eternal life. Life in service to the King is not our own…it’s better. Only in dying are we raised. Only in dying are more seeds produced, and therefore, more fruit. Our lives for theirs.

From our commitment and hard daily labor now, what might God do in response? Might he use one of our children, (or one of our children’s children), to bring many to Christ, to redeem the culture, to usher in reformation and revival in the church, to extend the Kingdom of God as never before? We have every reason to believe he will! But we must die. We must fall to the ground and die. We must hate our lives in this world. We must give our lives for our children’s lives, and for their children after them, that God might be pleased and choose to honor us by blessing those for whom we gave our lives.

My life for yours. Our lives for theirs. This is biblical faith.

Grace and Truth,
Dale

Leadership Lessons from Tim Tebow

I never dreamed I would be a Denver Broncos fan. But now I find myself trying to watch every game they play. Of course, the truth is, I’m a Tim Tebow fan. What’s not to like about Tebow? (It also doesn’t hurt that they have former Georgia great, Knowshon Moreno.)

Here are a couple of things that have recently come to my inbox on the subject Tebow and leadership. They are definitely worth watching and reading, especially if you want to pass on some important leadership principles to young men and women in your spheres of influence.

Cheers,
Dale

The first is from Tim Elmore at his website, Growing Leaders.

And also…

Here’s a post at Brian Dodd’s great blog on 14 Leadership Lessons Young Leaders Can Learn from Tim Tebow. Good stuff!

Leadership Lessons #1

A dear brother in Christ and I just started a “Leadership Bible Study” on Facebook for some young men who have been called by God to minister to youth. I’ve never done something like this, but I love the idea. Here’s hoping that it adds value to these brothers as they seek to reflect and exercise godly leadership in the lives of the youth that God has entrusted to their care.

Here’s what today (the Introduction) looked like…

Leadership Lesson #1
11-4-11

Brothers,

I’m so glad for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you this morning and to enter into a time of reflection regarding what it means to be a godly leader in today’s world. Most of you are involved in leading youth, so you can deeply appreciate the great need we have today for godly leadership.

The thoughts, Scripture, questions, etc., that I’ll be sharing in the days to come will be coming from a book that a mentor of mine wrote called, “A Handbook to Leadership: Leadership in the Image of God.” It’s by Ken Boa (good book if you’re interested in buying it.)

Here are a few excerpts from his Introduction:

“The leader’s job, as Jesus went on to demonstrate, is to help their followers become heroes. Leaders who serve their followers by equipping them to be the best they can possibly be are leading the way Jesus intended.”

“Those who follow Jesus’ teaching and live in a personal relationship with him are made into better people than they could ever have become without his leadership.”

“The leader’s character counts more than any other factor of leadership and that character is best molded and shaped by Jesus’ own teachings.”

“The only approach to leading Jesus validates for his followers is Servant Leadership.”

Questions:

* What do y’all think about those bullet points?
* What do you think a leader’s main job is?

Most of my comments won’t be this long (probably). But since this is the introduction, I thought it best to set the context for our future conversations.

Let Steve know if you have other folks you think would like to be a part of this.

Thanks Steve for moving forward with this.
Have a great weekend. I look forward to hearing from y’all.
Blessings,
Dale Tedder

As you can see, it’s nothing deep and profound. The whole point of my role is to get the conversation started by offering these leaders some food from thought. I know, and fully expect, that I will get much more out of this than they will.

Please pray for our efforts. Please pray that God will bless us with his guidance and wisdom so that we can all be the leaders he desires us to be.

Blessings,
Dale

Self-Awareness

I have about five or six articles in my head on the subject of self-awareness. It’s a bit of a buzzword, at least in some circles, but it’s a very important concept, especially in leadership. I serve on several leadership committees and we find ourselves talking about self-awareness often.

I’m happy to report that now I don’t have to write those articles because Tim Elmore has written a terrific post on the importance of self-awareness. You will relate to what he’s talking about before you finish reading the first paragraph. I highly recommend it. He also has some good ideas about how to keep watch over your own self-awareness (or lack thereof).

Here’s an excerpt…

Has this ever happened to you? You are waiting at a store counter, ready to pay for the items you’ve chosen and the young clerk pays no attention to the fact that you’re there. They are chatting with a friend, filing their finger nails, or lost in a texting match on their cell phone. You clear your throat, attempting to allow them to notice you without losing their dignity. They still don’t seem to care. When they finally look up, they saunter over to you, but don’t give any eye contact. As they interact with you—they behave as if you are intruding on their time and space. You almost can’t believe what’s happening, but you do because it’s happening more and more these days.

This happened to me last week, and I couldn’t help myself. I looked at the young staff member and diplomatically said: “I’m not sure if this makes sense, but usually if someone is trying to give you money, you should make it an easy and positive experience—at least as much as possible.” I don’t think he understood my words.

Click here to read the whole piece.

Here’s to self-awareness.

Joy and Truth,
Dale

Spiritual Leadership: Men’s Midweek Encouragement

You are a leader. Do you believe that? It’s true. I have always liked John Maxwell’s definition of leadership from the first time I ever heard it. Leadership, he said, is influence… nothing more and nothing less. Therefore, whether you’re the CEO of a big corporation, a politician, a pastor, a teacher, a father – you name it – you are a leader. The question is: Are you leading well or poorly? Are you a good or not-so-good leader? How are you doing with this?

There are countless books available for those wanting to become strong and positive leaders in their various spheres of influence. But most of them do not approach the subject of leadership from a biblical perspective. That’s why I thought I would pick up Henry and Richard Blackaby’s book, Spiritual Leadership. I’ve read a couple of things by Henry Blackaby and have found him to be a trusted guide on similar topics.

I have only just begun this book, so I probably ought to withhold my verdict about it until I finish, but I thought you might be blessed by some of the following quotes that I have found so far. These are some great ideas for men of God to meditate upon.

Before I share the quotes with you, however, let me pass along this prayer for leaders that I found in the UMC Book of Worship…

Almighty God, pour out your blessings upon these your servants who have been given particular ministries in your church. Grant them grace to give themselves wholeheartedly in your service. Keep before them the example of our Lord, who did not think first of himself, but gave himself for us all. Let them share his ministry and consecration, that they may enter into his joy. Guide them in their work. Reward their faithfulness with the knowledge that through them your purposes are accomplished; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessings,
Dale

2 Chronicles 16:9a – For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

 “Spiritual Leadership is not an occupation: it is a calling. Christian business people, physicians, educators, politicians, and parents – all ought to be spiritual leaders.”

“According to the Bible, God is not necessarily looking for leaders, at least not in the sense we generally think of leaders. He is looking for servants. When God finds men and women willing to be molded into his servants, the possibilities are limitless.”

“If anything can revolutionize today’s Christian leaders, it is when Christians understand God’s design for spiritual leaders.”

“People are desperate for leaders who can make positive changes in their lives!”

“According to George Barna, ‘the American church is dying due to a lack of strong leadership. In this time of unprecedented opportunity and plentiful resources, the church is actually losing influence. The primary reason is the lack of leadership. Nothing is more important than leadership.'”

“When the Israelites separated spiritual concerns from the political and economic issues, their nation was brought to its knees. Scripture indicates that it a mistake to separate the spiritual world from the secular world.”

“Every person, Christian and non-Christian alike, is a spiritual person with spiritual needs. Employees, customers, and governing boards all have spiritual needs that God wants to meet thought his servants in the workplace.”

“Jesus Christ is the Lord of all believers whether they are at church or at work. The kingdom of God is, in fact, the rule of god in every area of life, including the church, home, workplace, and neighborhood. To ignore these truths when entering the business world or political arena is to do so at one’s peril.”

“Society’s problem is more than just a lack of leaders. Society’s great deficit is that it does not have enough leaders who understand and practice Christian principles of leadership. Effective leaders are not enough. Hitler was an effective leader.”

“…one’s calling as a Christian not only takes precedence over his or her career; it actually gives direction to that career. Moreover, a Christian’s calling will give meaning to every area of life.”

“Spiritual leadership is not restricted to pastors and missionaries. It is the responsibility of all Christians whom God wants to use to make a difference in their world.”

Great Articles on Discipling Your Kids

New Horizons takes Christian families seriously. They generally have at least one great article each month that I find helpful, (as a Christian father), to navigate my family in and through life with covenant faithfulness.

This issue that I’m highlighting is especially helpful. I encourage you to check out these articles. Read them. Digest them. Pray over them. Put them into practice. And share them with others.

Kids, Character, and Catechism by L. Charles Jackson

The Lost Art and Practice of Family Devotions by Brad Winsted

The Divines’ Intent by Sidney D. Dyer

Edification—not Provocation by Arie van Eyk

If you would like to search New Horizon’s great archive of past articles, click here.

Enjoy,
Dale