Character

Let God’s Track Record Keep Your Leadership On Track

This is the craziest request I’ve seen by a young man asking a potential father-in-law to marry his daughter.

Adoniram Judson, the first Baptist missionary from America, married Ann Hasseltine on February 5, 1812. They boarded a boat two weeks later and headed to Burma, where they had a rich marriage and a fruitful ministry.

Before he married Ann, she told him he had to get permission from her father. And so he wrote him a letter:

“I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair.” (Quoted in Courtney Anderson, To The Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson [Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1987], 83.)

If you have ever read about George Mueller, you will be familiar with the amazing accounts of how God provided bread and milk for the children in the orphanage where he ministered.

How could Mueller and Judson’s father-in-law lead with faith? Because they had confidence in God’s character; they could stay on track because of God’s track record.

I’m encouraging you to lead with faith, and I think we do that by being powered by God’s work in the past and persuaded by His promises for the future. I’ll explain the first part of this today through Jephthah’s example in the book of Judges, and then I’ll explain the second part next week as we seek how to lead with faith.

In Judges 11, Jephthah was brought in to lead Israel in battle against the Ammonites. Jephthah showed that he knew and was guided by God’s work in the past. He didn’t run recklessly into a fight. Though he was a “mighty warrior” he attempted diplomacy first.

He sent messengers to communicate with the king of the Ammonites, asking him why he was attacking Israel. When the king gave an answer, Jephthah gave a rebuttal. He gave historical facts (v.14-22), declared that it was the Lord’s work (v.23-24), questioned the timing of the fight (v.25-26), and reminded the King that his problem is actually with the Lord, not with Jephthah (v.27-28).

This was leading with faith that was powered by God’s work in the past.

Leadership can be scary ground. You might not know what to expect. You’re not sure which decisions to make or how it will affect people. But as a Christian, we have to be empowered by God’s work in the past. We find comfort in knowing the character of God and how He will lead us.

Jephthah had to find some comfort in knowing how God has worked in the Israelites in the past. He was confident that the king of the Ammonites was really battling against the Lord. That’s a battle Jephthah would stand in because he knew he wasn’t alone.

When you consider your leadership, always remember God’s character and what he has done in the past because that is going to remind you how He will continue to work.

Photo by Andrew McElroy on Unsplash

Five To Focus 31. Getting Out of Low Places (Part 2): Trusting God

Judges 6 brings us to part 2 of Gideon’s example: trusting in God because He is faithful. His character is trustworthy.

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Overcoming Doubt By Trusting God’s Character

Fear can cripple us from obeying God. We will come up with all kind of excuses, like Gideon. Judges 6 introduces Gideon as a fearful man. We are introduced to Gideon in verse 11. He is threshing wheat in a winepress. Now, what is wrong with that—threshing wheat in a winepress? It is unusual, but it is also clear from verse 11 that he is hiding from the Midianites. He can’t be out in the open with this or they’ll take it.

What Gideon didn’t realize is that God has chosen him to be the next Judge, the one who would rescue Israel from this oppression from the Midianites.

The Angel of the Lord visited him and said “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (v.12). Two parts- first, a reference to the Lord, and second, a reference to Gideon.

Gideon takes issue with the first reference—God? where is God?

There’s something really interesting about Gideon by the way— if he’s no older than 40-50 years old at this time (maybe the average lifespan of a man at that time), then he was born into a time of peace in Israel. Prior to being put into Midianite oppression, Israel experienced 40 years of peace.

All he knew was peace. These last 7 years were something so foreign to him.

So, he was doubting the character of God, and it didn’t take long for him to get to that point. He might have lived for 40 years hearing the good accounts of God to Israel, and then in 7 short years, his view of God changed.

Circumstances can quickly change your worldview if you’re not careful to keep a proper focus.  

Gideon also took issue with the second part of what the angel of the Lord told him—that he was a mighty man of valor. He explained how he was the youngest person in his family, which was the weakest family in their tribe.

God doesn’t say, ‘Oh no, you’re not that weak’; he doesn’t correct him. It’s true: Gideon really must have been weak! But God told him what would forever change his life and lift him out of his crippling doubt and fear: “I will be with you” (v.16).

Eventually, Gideon built an altar to the Lord and called it “The Lord is Peace” (v.24). He stopped thinking about himself–his limitations and his lack of understanding–and found peace by remembering God’s character.

Think about the name of this altar. The Lord is Peace. The name addressed every doubt that Gideon had. He remembered who God is. The fears, hiding, doubting—all of that is met in the God of Peace.

Is fear crippling you from obeying God? Don’t make excuses from your personal limitations, but trust in the character of God to complete what He started in you (Phil. 1:6).

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