By Chris Arnold
Over the past few weeks, I have been reading one of the best leadership books I’ve read in awhile, Spiritual Leadership by Henry & Richard Blackaby. What really stands out in this book is the essence of what’s captured in the subtitle, “Moving People on to God’s Agenda”. In short, are you leading with your own agenda or God’s agenda? Easy to answer…right!!!
As one who says they are “equipping leaders for life”, I spend a considerable amount of time studying and reflecting upon leadership principles. In particular, over the past few years, I’ve been on a quest to truly define what a Godly leader looks like. God has gifted me with a flock to Shepard and I want to insure that the principles in which I am personally leading and teaching are in line with His agenda. While there are many great leadership books, I must admit that I find myself stepping back regularly and asking the question, “how does this align with scripture?” In many cases, I find myself concluding that there is alignment, however, only in the right context.
Interestingly, I had four leadership roundtables this week and this topic hit the table in some fashion in each of the four sessions. Prior to sharing more, let me set the context a bit regarding our roundtable environment. These roundtables each consist of 8-12 leaders in business whom gather monthly to learn more about living out their faith in the marketplace and to seek Godly council. Members bring business, personal, and spiritual issues to the table “in hopes of” receiving Godly council from like-minded business leaders.
Notice, I used the words “in hopes of”. For today’s purposes, I have intentionally phrased it this way. The reason being that while we encourage people to insure they are seeking God first in giving and receiving council, my observations are that even in our environment, there is a tendency to give personal thoughts or opinions versus earnestly seeking the Spirit and allowing Him to speak through you to encourage a brother or sister in Christ.
So, getting back to the topic of whose agenda are you leading and how do you know. Most Christ-followers would say that they want to lead to God’s agenda. However, they really struggle with these questions: “How do I discover His agenda,” and “How will I know?”
Here are some few nuggets from my personal study and reflection.
First, Matthew 6:33 says “seek first the kingdom”. This sounds simple, however, how many of us in the moment are simply starting at that point. When we rise in the morning or when we have a decision to make, we seek The Lord and allow His Spirit to speak to us. Some of you are saying, Chris, I seek The Lord, but how do I hear His voice. Again, Blackaby has a few good books on hearing Gods voice, and I would simply say, “are you truly listening?”
Let me ask you, when was the last time you truly slowed down, quieted yourself, and allowed the Spirit to speak to you. One of the things we’ve been encouraging within the groups we lead is that leaders set aside one day a month for a spiritual retreat. During this retreat, we’re recommending you unplug from all of the electronic devices, take your Bible and a notepad, and simply find a quiet spot to go spend with your Heavenly Father. For most business leaders, this proves to be an extremely challenging exercise. However, once they have been able to quiet themselves and get their hearts in the right place, they have some incredible stories of how God has spoken to them in this time. I personally have this as part of my routine and cherish this time every month.
That being said, seeking God’s voice and listening isn’t a monthly event, it’s a moment by moment decision. So, how do we make decisions and hear His voice in these moments? Well, a tool that we encourage in our roundtables is the 4 Step Decision Making process: Word, Prayer, Godly Council, and Past Experience. You can click on this link to learn more about this process, however, it’s simply a tool to turn your focus toward God’s agenda and allowing Him to speak to you. We tell folks that if all four of these are in alignment, there is a pretty good chance you’re walking in alignment with God’s will.
This brings me to a final observation for today, “past experience”. How many times in a rough situation, does someone ask you to reflect on the things that have gone well, and then encourage you to go back and approach the situation that same way? Or, how many of you have been encouraged to go find someone successful in your field and duplicate their success? While this is a part of the process, notice that this is the last step in the process. A story we sometimes ask people to recall is the story of David going into battle.
In today’s culture, many of us would have reflected on past experience and headed straight into battle like the last time, expecting similar results. However, that isn’t what David did. David again sought The Lord and he heard His voice saying “Do not go straight up, but circle around….”2 Samuel 5:23. As Blackaby states, “Christian organizations should note in the Scriptures and throughout history that God rarely worked the same way twice.” The emphasis here being David “sought The Lord”, was open to hearing His voice, and walked in obedience to Him.
So, I’ve only scratched the surface with today’s post. My challenge to you is to stop and reflect on whose agenda is leading your personal life and how do you know.
Chris Arnold is a leadership and life coach, and a Chapter President for Truth@Work in Indianapolis, IN. He’s passionate about engaging, equipping, and inspiring leaders and their teams in clearly defining what “success” looks like and building strategies to achieve this “success”. Through Truth@Work Christian Roundtables and other engagements, he sits monthly with 50+ business leaders coaching through the lens of biblical leadership on a wide variety of life and business challenges. To learn more about Chris, visit www.chrisdarnold.com or follow @mrchrisdarnold on Twitter.