Category Archives: Humility

Pride and Fear (DEVOTION)


 

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 3.58.17 PMThis is the throne of your heart. The person that sits on the throne of your heart is the one who directs your life.

 

 

 

 

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Of course, Jesus wants to be that person, but He allows you to choose each day and even each moment who will sit on the throne of your heart. I’m not talking about your salvation. I’m talking about who is Lord over your life. I’m talking about who you give authority to in your life each moment and each day.

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 3.58.47 PMBecause even after you’ve asked Jesus into your heart, He still has competition for the throne from your EGO.  EGO is a term coined by Sigmund Freud for the part of your mind that coordinates communication between your conscious and subconscious, but it has come to mean “your self-importance.”  It’s the need to feel that your SELF is important.

 

 

 

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Another way you can think of EGO is E-G-O, and it stands for Edging God Out, because that is exactly what your self-importance does. EGO Edges God Out so that it can take the throne. Your EGO wants to make YOU the king of your life instead of Jesus. This is a TERRIBLE idea, because pushing Jesus off the throne of our hearts kills our desire to please God. When EGO sits on the throne, we are motivated by Pride and Fear.

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 3.59.41 PMLet me take you to the chalkboard and show you what I mean.

The Bible talks a lot about Pride and Fear, but let’s just look at two Scriptures as examples.  Romans 12:3 tells us that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, and Proverbs 29:25 tells us that the fear of man is a snare.  Both Pride and Fear are a trap, and we have to be careful to avoid them.

When our EGO sits on the throne of our heart, our heart is pulled by two powerful desires. The desire to Promote Ourself – Pride…and the desire to Protect Ourself – Fear.  This is because EGO thinks SELF is so important that it should be both Promoted and Protected.

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When we Promote ourselves (Pride), we exhibit certain behaviors.

  • Boasting
  • Taking all the credit
  • Showing off
  • Doing all the talking
  • Demanding all the attention

We do these things to Promote SELF…to get people to think highly of us.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 3.59.57 PMWhen we Protect SELF (Fear), we exhibit different behaviors.

  • Hoarding control
  • Hiding behind position
  • Withholding information
  • Intimidating others
  • Discouraging honest feedback

Why do we do these things?

Because EGO thinks SELF is important and needs to be protected from all threats. We are all motivated by these two things much of the time.

But here is why we need to invite Jesus back onto the throne.

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 4.00.11 PMPride and Fear separate us from God and from others. They isolate us.

They trick us into constantly comparing ourselves with others.  “Do I look, sound, and smell better than him or her?” “Is he going to pass me up for the next promotion?”

They distort the truth. I think I deserve the recognition (even though I only did a little piece of the work). I think he’s attacking me and that I have to save face (even though his motive might be to gently correct me).

 

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The antidote to Promoting SELF (Pride) is Humility.

And the antidote to Protecting SELF (Fear) is Faith.

But it’s not possible for you to practice true Humility and Faith without Jesus.

 

 

 

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We’ve got to put Him back on the throne of our hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, let me give you a few steps to redeem your EGO and put it in proper relationshipScreen Shot 2016-02-20 at 4.01.01 PM to Christ.

Instead of Edging God Out, your SELF can Exalt God Only.  Here’s how.

  1. When you become aware that you are Promoting or Protecting Self, acknowledge what is happening in your mind. Ex. “This is pride.” or “This is fear.”
  2. Ask Jesus to retake the throne of your heart.
  3. Pause and pray that God will show you the source of the pride or fear.
  4. When you recognize a source, keep asking “why?” to find the root.
    1. For example, I get an email from my boss, and I feel fear. Why?
    2. I am afraid my boss is unhappy with the work I turned in. Why?
    3. I am afraid that it won’t be good enough. Why?
    4. If he says it isn’t good enough, it feels like he is saying that I’m not good enough. Why?
    5. I’m afraid of being rejected because of that time I was rejected in a very painful way by someone I cared about.  (You may not get this deep the first time you work through this process, but the Holy Spirit will be faithful to reveal to you the source of your false narrative (story) if you continue to ask Him where your fear or pride is coming from. He will help you to recognize the bad stories you subconsciously tell yourself whenever your SELF is threatened.)
  5. When you find the root, ask God to replace it with His truth.
  6. Then, ask God to help you practice Humility or Faith in this current situation.
  7. Instead of reacting in pride or fear, choose to respond with humility and/or faith.

Keeping EGO off the throne of your heart is difficult, and it takes practice.  Don’t get discouraged.  You will get better and better as you continue to invite Jesus to the throne.

 

NOTE: This devotion is an adaptation of the work of Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges in their book Lead Like Jesus.  It helps us understand how important it is to keep Jesus on the throne of our heart so that we can avoid being controlled by pride and fear.  You can find the slide deck and a self-assessment on the Lesson and Material Downloads page.  (Click the link or see the tab at the top of the screen.)  Then, scroll down to “Pride and Fear” in the alphabetical list.

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An Excellent Failure (ANECDOTE)


Success is 99 Percent FailureI was at a meeting with some of our leaders from part of my ministry a few weeks ago, and we were discussing the topic of failure and how it is perceived within our organization.  We agreed that there is an unspoken rule that failure is NOT okay.  We will go to great lengths to prevent failure or even to cover it up and make it look like success when it does happen.  
 
Why do we do this?  It’s not biblical.  Jesus let His disciples fail on a regular basis.  Here are a few examples.  They failed when they:
  • Tried to cast out an unclean spirit from a boy
  • Were asked to feed the 5,000
  • Argued about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom
  • Walked on water
  • Tried to stay awake and pray with Jesus before His arrest
  • Defended Jesus against the soldiers
  • Denied knowing Jesus
You may think I’m cynical, but I believe Jesus even set them up for failure on certain occasions.  He knew that they wouldn’t succeed, but He let them try anyway.  Why?  Because failure gives birth to growth and learning, maturity, character, humility, a teachable spirit, dependence on God, empathy for others, and even innovation, transformation, and revival!  We learn sooooo much more from our failures than we do from our successes.  Are we missing out on God’s best for us when we work so hard not to fail?
 
Recognizing this problem in their culture, here’s what one region of our ministry did.  They flipped failure on its head.  Instead of hiding failures, they required their leaders to celebrate them.  In every leader’s performance appraisal for the past few years, they have had to share an “excellent failure” for which they were personally responsible.  An “excellent failure” is a failure that taught you something, that gave you a new perspective, that prepared you, that matured you, that shaped you to be more like Christ.  It’s a failure that produces a harvest in your life or ministry.  
 
And for it to count, you have to own it.  You’ve got to identify what you did or did not do that made things go wrong.  You’ve got to say, “I failed,” or else the failure has no power to change you.  You can’t dilute it by saying “we” or “my team” or “because they.”  There may be truth in those statements, but the failure won’t be transformational for you until you acknowledge your part.
 
So, what do you think?  Do you have the courage to own your failure?  Are you willing to put your name on it and see what God is willing to do with a transparent and humble leader?
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
 
Very truly I tell you, 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. ~ John 12:24
 
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again… ~ Proverbs 24:16

 

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Joseph’s Journey


For summer camp this year, I’ve written ten Challenges (Bible activities for small groups and a leader to do together – sometimes in competition with other groups) and some large group lessons on the story of Joseph. They are all located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page (see the link at the top of the screen), and you can find them alphabetically in the list. They all start with the letters “JJ” for “Joseph’s Journey.”

Hope you can find some lessons that will be useful for you!

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God-Sized Vision (DEVOTION)


In your groups, read the following Scriptures. Then answer the questions below.

  • Daniel 10:1-21
  • Daniel 11:1
  • Daniel 12:1-13
  • How did Daniel prepare himself to receive the vision?
  • How did the vision impact Daniel?  Why?
  • What was the response of the “one who looked like a man?”
  • How was the vision delayed?
  • Why do you think it was delayed?
  • How should this influence how we approach God when we want a God-sized vision?

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Weakness (DEVOTION)


As a group, read the following Scriptures, and then discuss the questions below.

  • Psalm 10:2 (the wicked man hunts down the weak)
  • Psalm 41:1-3 (blessed are those who have regard for the weak)
  • Isaiah 40:29-31 (He increases the power of the weak)
  • Ezekiel 34:16 (I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak)
  • Acts 20:35 (we must help the weak)
  • Romans 8:26 (the Spirit helps us in our weakness)
  • Romans 14:1-4 (accept the one whose faith is weak)
  • Romans 15:1 (bear with the failings of the weak)
  • 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (God chose the weak things to shame the strong)
  • 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (to the weak, I became weak)
  • 1 Corinthians 12:21-26 (the weaker parts of the body are indispensable)
  • 2 Corinthians 11:30 (I will boast of the things that show my weakness)
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (for when I am weak, then I am strong)
  • Hebrews 5:1-3 (the high priest is subject to weakness)
  1. How does God feel about weakness?
  2. How is this different from how the world often feels about and acts toward weakness?
  3. How are we called to respond to weakness?
  4. How do these Scriptures relate to the weaknesses people have in regard to the work that they do and the relationships that they are in?
  5. Do you think God wants us to fix our weaknesses?  Why or why not?

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Filed under acceptance, Agape Love, Bullying, Challenges, Devotion, Humility, Kindness, Love, Relationships, self-image, Self-worth, spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Health, Strengths, struggles, temptation, Weakness

Under the Radar (GAME)


Audience

Teens, Adults

Time

30-35 minutes
Description

This game helps participants to understand how challenging it is to get feedback “in under the radar” without raising the intended recipient’s defensiveness.  Participants will enjoy trying to get beanbags into a target.  The beanbags represent their feedback, and the target represents the recipient’s heart.

Scriptures

o  Proverbs 15:1, 18; 21:23

Materials

o  Beanbags (three per team – if you can’t find beanbags to buy, you can make simple ones with small ziplock bags or drawstring bags filled with beans or rice)

o  Posterboard (1 sheet per team)

o  Markers (2-3 – Red, Green and Black if you want it)

o  Masking tape

o  Note cards (3 per team)

o  A bag or pouch with material that you cannot see through (1 per team)

o  Scissors

o  Bible

Preparation

o  Create a target on the posterboard.  Start with a 6” x 6” circle in the middle.  Then draw concentric circles around it, making each new one about 6” bigger all around.

o  Write point values in each of the circles.  The center circle is worth 50 points.  The next, bigger circle is worth 25.  The next, bigger circle is worth 15.  The next one is worth 10, and if you have any edge left on the poserboard, you can mark that worth 5 points.

o  Buy or make your bean bags.

o  Place the posterboard targets on the ground, and mark a boundary for the throwers with a piece of tape on the floor.  It should be about 8-10 feet away from the target.

o  Mark three more lines of tape on the floor at 25%, 50% and 75% of the way between the throwing line and the target.

o  Cut the notecards in half, and put a large, colored dot on each one (Make 3 with RED dots and 3 with GREEN dots for each group.)

o  Mix up the 6 half-cards, and put them into a bag/pouch.

o  Practice the script.

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Giving feedback isn’t easy.”
  • “We want our feedback to be taken to heart by the person we are giving it to.”
  • “Their heart is our target.”
  • “If the feedback doesn’t make it to their heart, they won’t do anything about it.”
  • “And even when we give feedback with a pure heart and a desire to help the other person, there is no guarantee that our feedback will hit its target.”
  • “There are many things that can rise up and block our feedback from reaching its target, and one of the most common obstacles is defensiveness.”  (Ask a volunteer to come to the front and represent the person to whom you want to give feedback.)
  • “When we are trying to send our feedback to its target…”  (Demonstrate “feedback” flying through the air in the direction of the volunteer with your hand.) “…if we don’t skillfully send it into the target area, the person’s defensiveness radar will see it coming….”  (Have the volunteer make a beeping sound to represent a radar system, and ask them to speed up their beeping as you get closer.) “…and the defensive walls will go up!”  (Have the volunteer put up their hands and block your feedback from reaching its target.  Then, thank and dismiss the volunteer.)
  • “So, let’s play a game that demonstrates this difficulty.”
  • “It’s called ‘Under the Radar,’ and your goal is to throw a beanbag onto a target to earn points.”
  • “You will have to stand here at this line to make your throw and try to hit that target.”  (Demonstrate so that participants get the idea.)
  • “That would be challenging by itself, but it’s more difficult than that.”
  • “I’m going to divide you into a team of three and then make you compete against another team of three.”
  • “Three people will get a chance to throw their ‘feedback’ onto the target, and the team that they are competing against will get a chance to block them.”
  • “Here’s how it will work.”
  • “Each person throwing will get three chances to hit the target, but before they throw, they have to draw three cards out of this bag.”
  • “Inside the bag are eight (6) notecards – three with RED dots and three with GREEN dots.”
  • “If they draw a card with a RED dot, the other team gets to put a person on one of the strips of tape between the throwing line and the target.“
  • “This person represents defensiveness on the part of the person receiving the feedback.”
  • “They have to stand on the tape, but they can do whatever they can from that point to try to block your ‘feedback’ from reaching its target.”
  • “If the person throwing draws two RED dots, two of the opposing team get to stand on the tape marks (different ones).”
  • “If he/she draw three RED dots, three of the opposing team get to stand on the tape marks.”
  • “If less than three RED dots are drawn in the three draws, not all opposing team members will get to stand on the tape marks.”
  • “Those not on tape marks are not allowed to interfere with the throws.”
  • “GREEN cards are good for the throwing team and keep the opposing team off the tape marks.”
  • “After drawing three cards from the bag, the thrower should make three throws and see how close to the center of the target that he/she can get while trying to avoid the defenses of the opposing team members on the tape marks.”
  • “After that team member has made their three shots, add up the total points.”
  • “Then, move the opposing team members off the tape marks, and let the other two team members take turns drawing three cards and take three throws while avoiding the defenses of any opposing players who get onto tape marks because of RED dot cards.”
  • “When all three team members have thrown, the opposing team gets their turn to throw and see how many points they can accumulate.”
  • “The team that has the most total points (from all nine throws) wins.”
  • “Any questions?” (After addressing questions, divide the group into groups of three and pair up the teams of three against each other.  Then, have them choose who will throw first and let them play.  When they are done, recognize or reward the winning teams, and have them return to their seats to work through the following debrief questions.)

Debrief Questions

1. What was challenging about the game?

2. If you compare the game to giving someone feedback, what comparisons can you make?

3. What types of things make people’s defensiveness go up?

4. How can you give feedback in a way that won’t make people defensive?

5. Read Proverbs 15:1, 18 and 21:23.  Do these Scriptures give you any additional ideas?

Summary

  • “Sometimes, you only get once chance to send that feedback in there, so you want to make sure that it has the best chance possible of hitting it’s target.”

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Filed under acceptance, conflict management, Conflict Resolution, discipleship, Evaluation, Game, Games that Teach, Hands-on, heart, Humility, leadership, Relationships, self-image, Spiritual Growth, team, Transformation

Scattered (Obj Lesson)


Time

20-25 minutes
Description

This object lesson teaches about why God scattered the people after they tried to build the Tower of Babel.

 

Scriptures

  • Genesis 11:1-9
  • Nehemiah 8:1
  • Proverbs 3:11-12
  • Proverbs 29:23
  • Ezekiel 34:11-16

Materials

  • Stackable items (e.g., blocks, sugar cubes, cups, etc.) You will need at least enough for each person to have one, and you may want to have enough for everyone to have more than one to increase the level of difficulty.
  • A timer, stopwatch or watch/clock with a second hand
  • Table (optional)
  • Small prize for everyone after finishing the challenge (optional)
  • A set of dice (2)
  • Bible

Preparation

  • Spread the stackable items out on a table or floor
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Let’s do a group challenge, called ‘Scattered.’”
  • “I will need a volunteer to roll the dice and keep time.” (Select a volunteer.  You could have two separate people doing these roles if you like.)
  • “Everyone else come and grab one (or more) of the blocks (or other stackable items) on the table (or floor).”
  • “Your goal is to work together to build a tower using all of the blocks (or other stackable items).”
  • “You will have a time limit, and your tower must be finished before time runs out.”
  • “We will find out how much time you have by rolling the dice and multiplying the total by five.”
  • “So, for example, if we roll a six and a three, that equals nine. Multiply that times five, and you get 45.  Then, you would have 45 seconds to finish your tower.”
  • “If we roll a two and a four, you will only get six times five seconds, which equals 30 seconds.”
  • “If you are not finished when the time runs out, I will call out, ‘SCATTER!’ and everyone will have to grab their block(s) and scatter away from the building area.”
  • “Then, we will roll the dice again, and you will get another chance to build your tower.”
  • “Does everyone understand how to do the challenge?”  (Answer any questions.  Then, go through several rounds of the challenge.  If they are really struggling, take a moment between rounds to show them how to build a step pyramid.  It looks like the pyramids of Egypt.  The first level is the biggest.  The second level is smaller and goes on top.  This is a stable way to build the tower, and it is easy to make the pyramid bigger by adding another row to the first level and then building on top.  If they just can’t get the tower built in the time, consider doubling it by multiplying the dice roll by ten instead of five.  When participants have successfully built the tower in the time limit, congratulate them and offer a prize (if you want).  Then, have them return to their seats.)
  • “Did you think that was easy or difficult?”  (Take responses.)
  • “For those of you who thought it was difficult, what made it hard to do?” (Take responses.  One of the responses you are hoping to hear is that they had to keep scattering.)
  • “I think so, too.  It’s hard to finish something if you have to keep taking it apart and scattering.  That leads me to our lesson for today.”
  • “Today’s lesson is going to be about the story of the Tower of Babel.”
  • “How many of you remember the story?”  (Allow someone to share it if they feel confident.  Then ask a volunteer to read it out loud from Genesis 11:1-9.)
  • “This story happened after Noah had built the ark and the floods had come, killing everyone on earth except the eight members of his family.”
  • “When the flood dried up, and the ark landed on a mountain, Noah, his wife, their children and their spouses all got off the ark.”
  • “Before long, their families started to grow, and when there were too many people to live in the same place, they began to move eastward.”
  • “When they came to the plain of Shinar, they thought it looked like a good place to live and got the idea to build a huge tower.”
  • “So, why do you think the people scattered?”  (Response should include that they spoke different languages and could no longer understand each other.)
  • “Right!  Think how difficult it would be to work together if you couldn’t understand what the other people were saying.”  (You might want to act out the story at this point to get a laugh.  Mimic the actions of a bricklayer laying bricks and spreading mortar.  Begin to ask someone to bring you more bricks, and begin speaking gibberish in midsentence.  Continue for a few moments, acting like you are getting increasingly frustrated by your inability to communicate.)
  • “This is where we get the word, ‘babel,’ which means a confusing noise.”
  • “God made the people babel (make a confusing noise) at the Tower of Babel.”
  • “Probably after a few hours of that, they gave up trying to talk with people who couldn’t understand them and started to form groups with people who did understand them.”
  • “Then, those groups separated from the other groups and went to different places around the earth.”
  • “So, why do you think God changed their language and scattered them?” (The reason you are looking for is that they were building the tower for the wrong reasons.  They built it to “make a name for ourselves.”)
  • “In other words, they were building a tower to show how great they were.  This is a motive called pride.”
  • “God hates pride.  In Proverbs 29:23, He says, ‘A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.’”
  • “God hates pride, because it means that we are taking credit for everything and giving no credit to God.”
  • “Do you think these people could have built the tower without the mud and straw that God provided for the bricks?”  (Listen for responses.)
  • “Do you think they could have built it without the strength in their arms and legs that God gave them to carry and stack the bricks?”  (Listen for responses.)
  • “Do you think they could have built it without the intelligence that God gave them to create a plan for how to build the tower?”   (Listen for responses.)
  • “We can’t take credit for any good thing that we are able to do without giving credit to God for giving us the materials, the strength and the intelligence to do it.”
  • “Everything good comes from the Lord, so He deserves our appreciation.”
  • “These people building the Tower of Babel didn’t appreciate what the Lord had done for them.”
  • “They thought that they could do everything in their own power, so God changed their language to show them that without the blessing of a common language, they really didn’t have as much power as they thought.”
  • “When they couldn’t understand each other, they found people who they could understand and scattered over the earth in these groups.”
  • “This isn’t the only time God scattered people.  In Nehemiah 1:8, the Scriptures tell us that God threatened to scatter His people if they were unfaithful to him.” (Have a volunteer read Nehemiah 1:8.)
  • “You see, God knew that the Israelites would get proud and think that they didn’t need God.”
  • “He threatened to scatter them as discipline for their pride.”
  • “But discipline is a good thing.  God says that He disciplines those He loves and calls His children, so while it might not sound great to get scattered, it really means that God loved them.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)
  • “The Israelites disobeyed God and got scattered for many years.”
  • “But God promised He would also bring them back to their land.”  (Have volunteer read Nehemiah 1:9.)
  • “And God did bring them back.  In fact, Nehemiah (the one who wrote the book from which we are reading the Scripture) was one of the ones God gathered back.”
  • “When he wrote this book of the Bible, he was rebuilding the ruined wall of Jerusalem.”
  • “God scattered the people multiple times throughout the Bible as a way of disciplining them and reminding them that need Him – that they can’t do everything by themselves.”
  • “But God didn’t leave them scattered.  Like a good shepherd gathering his lost sheep, God brought His people back home.”  (Ezekiel 34:11-16)

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