To Close Hold And Lift Here
At 6:15 this morn, our beach retreat was buzzing. Normally it’s just me fumbling to make coffee, get out the door and onto the sand by 6:30. Today was different. Busier. Lauren was flying back to Atlanta. She had work to do for VBX. Lauren is heading up the decorations, and has taken it all on with great passion and determination. Off she went. Ugh.
Normally the quiet early morning ocean is my only companion. This morning remained different. Busier. More people seemed to be interrupting the holy breeze sweeping across the waters washed with blue and pink hues. Busy people were setting up obnoxious tents. What was this rude invasion? Intense walkers buzzed by with a resolve to focus only on form and their ipod. Runners were streaming by as if someone had accidentally shot off the starter’s pistol in the dark. The race was on.
Sherry and I like to classify beach runners. Vacation runners are rather obvious in that they seem to have waited for their vacation to get in shape, but now they are all in. 🙂 Serious runners have stride, pace, and great shoes to set them apart. On this chaotic morning, runners of all kind were burning up the sunrise. People in all states of fitness were determined and zeroed in on some ambiguous goal or accomplishment this strand of beach was beckoning. Weird.
I sat in my chair as a goofy, lazy spectator. My coffee enhanced the still waters before me, and closed off the rush around me. I saw three dolphins playfully flirt with the shoreline. One was huge. My sitting and breathing was being rewarded. I looked around to see if anyone else was catching the same show. Nothing. They were all too busy. There was one couple who stopped to take a glance at a dancing, shimmering dolphin fin. Only by stopping and breathing were they able to see. Within minutes their intense search for shell nirvana pushed them on their way.
Recently as I traveled through Ohio, I heard an old high school friend, Ken Colvin, had lost his aging father to the battle of Alzheimer’s. Years ago, the Colvin family had allowed me to invade their solid and overtly Godly home during a time when mine was being torn apart by divorce. What a risk that must have been for Mr. & Mrs. Colvin. They were such a force of stability when I needed it most. I knew I needed to make the memorial service and pay my respects
At the service, a packed crowd celebrated Mr. Colvin’s first day in heaven. Music, testimonies, tears, joy, stories, hymns, and Bible verses were the tools used to remember. My friend Ken spoke of his dad’s love for Jesus. His younger brother, Chris, focused on his father’s greatness exactly because of Jesus. Nobody spoke of Mr. Colvin’s busyness. Nobody really focused much on any accomplishments other than Mr. Colvin was in Jesus… he loved Jesus… he was an adopted son of Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. He was touted as a great man, but only because he had stood (or rather sat down) in Jesus.
What does any of this have to do with leadership? Everything. Oswald Chambers pierced my heart this morning with these words: “You must will to receive God’s Spirit.” I looked at the whirling activity surrounding my beach perch, and knew I had to sit… will myself… to hear Jesus. I had to stop, breathe, and sit IN JESUS to receive direction from His Spirit.
As I read five more chapters of Genesis, I was struck how Jacob and others always marked significant God activity by naming events, places, wells, and altars. (Gen. 33:20 is only one example of many.) There was such a dependence upon God. When they saw God’s hand, they marked it… named it… called it. Donald Miller, in his workbook “Storyline,” suggests we outline the significant events of our lives. He suggests naming and giving them a positive or negative score depending on how we were impacted. Miller’s idea is to see the story of our lives in the bigger story of God’s. It’s a matter of dependence.
If I were to name this study break thus far, I would boldly scribble out “dependence.” With an intentional focus on leadership, my dependence on Jesus to lead through me is so critical — and something I needed a strong reminder of.
I took a long walk down the beach and found an obscure, black, discarded label reading, “To close hold and lift here.” I glanced and passed it by. Then awkwardly, I walked back to pick it up. I’m so hungry to hear God’s voice, I don’t want to take anything for granted. What in the world does “to close hold and lift here” mean? Was this a vain, cheap, manufactured attempt at conjuring the very voice of God? idk.
I do think I have often closed myself off to Jesus leading through me because I have held and lifted my own ideas of leadership instead.
The first half of Dan Reiland’s, “Amplified Leadership” has been good to consider. Admittedly, I have struggled with Reiland’s thoughts like: “Challenging people to follow Christ is our mission, but as leaders, we must also get people to follow us.” Hmmm. What if as leaders, we simply got people to follow Jesus? “Amplified Leadership” is a 5-step process to develop leaders who will in turn develop leaders. It, perhaps, is such a small tweak — but what if my being a disciple of Jesus motivated me to make other disciples who will in turn make disciples? What if my leadership was just about Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. “Dependence.”
I’m probably splitting the split ends on hairs here, but marking this study break with “dependence” has taken my processing a bit further. In fairness, the intro of Reiland’s book gives encouragement of cementing Godly character as the basis for any leadership advancement. “Amplified Leadership” has great ideas to connect with and appreciate people. Encouraging and inspiring folks to get behind a vision are absolutely correct admonishments, AND GOOD FOR ME TO READ. However, “dependence” has allowed me to have a clear filter to ask Jesus to do these things through me as He also leads through me. This healthy distinction will help me to last as a leader. This is “dependence.”
We got word that Lauren made it back to Atlanta and was on her way to work at the church. I’m glad she had time with us in Florida before she got back to it. I’m glad she (and all the kids) was able to participate in our family study of Ephesians… sitting down in Jesus. Yesterday we pounded Ephesians 2:8-10. We’re saved by GRACE. Our faith comes by GRACE. It’s all about Jesus. The work He DOES have for us is prepared in advance as a GRACE thing. Jesus. Dependence. I’m confident Lauren will DO great things as an emerging leader. I’m more hopeful of how great she is and will be because of who she is IN JESUS.
(Genesis… OMGooodness. Do you know the one about Rachel not standing to greet her dad? This is going to be one wild series. I’m thinking we have to come up with something creative for families, individuals, and our church to mark or name significant God events. I’m drawn to the idea of stones. I’m thinking through what this could look like for my family. They’re always a good test audience!)