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Lukewarm

There are all kinds of leaders in the world.

Almost anyone can lead. All it really takes is for someone to step up and take charge.

There are those who lead with evil intent and those who lead for good. There are some who lead with fiery passion and some who stay calm and composed in the midst of the flame.

There are still others who are so unsure of themselves, that they are neither passionate nor self-controlled. Having no real image of who they are, they are blown to and fro with every wind of change, not knowing when to stand or when to walk away.

These leaders are the most difficult to follow, and the most dangerous.

Jesus warned us about these kinds of people.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus sent messages to the various churches. To the church at Laodicea, He sent a warning. He was dissatisfied with them because they did not have an accurate view of who they were. They believed they were doing very well for themselves. They had become wealthy and believed they didn’t need anything. Because they were so self satisfied, and likely self absorbed, they could not see that they were, as Jesus called them, “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17, NIV)

The Laodicean church did not see themselves the same way Jesus saw them, and that was going to be their downfall if they did not change their ways. He compared them to water. Since they were neither hot nor cold, He was going to spit them out His mouth.

Water is a very common theme in the Bible. In this example, Jesus is making a great point. Hot water cleanses and heals. Cold water refreshes and rejuvenates. They did neither. The church at Laodicea was only lukewarm. Lukewarm water is good for nothing. It neither heals nor refreshes.

If the Laodiceans had a more accurate picture of who they really were, surely they would have behaved differently. Certainly, if they knew how poor they were, they would have turned back to Jesus and accepted the refined gold He offered. If they had seen their nakedness, surely they would have taken the robes that He had washed white as snow with His blood sacrifice on their behalf. Wouldn’t that have made them WANT to be hot or cold, healing or refreshing?

If we, here and now, lose sight of who we are in Christ, we have done the same thing. If we do not have an accurate picture of our own state, we cannot lead as He expects us to lead.

As Christ followers, we must see ourselves with God’s eyes. When Jesus died on the cross, He descended into Hell in our place. At His resurrection, He defeated Death and Hell, forever. Now, when God looks at us, He sees Jesus. When it is time to give account for all of our words and deeds, Jesus will be there with us. Our debt has already been marked “Paid In Full,” not because of anything we have done, but because of Jesus. We are victors. We are more than conquerors. We have been redeemed. Our robes have been washed white as snow.

We are no longer orphans, we are children of the King. We are heirs to the Kingdom. The time for lukewarm is over. It is time to be hot or cold. It is time to bring the hot water of healing or the cold water of refreshing to the people God has put before us.

The people are in pain. They are thirsty. They are looking for what we already have. In our communities, businesses, and schools, they are looking for someone to show them Jesus.

Whether hot or cold, it’s time to lead the way.
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To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth….Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

Revelation 3:14-16, 19-20, NIV

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The One Way Street

Respect is a two way street.

We’ve all heard that before.

There’s a good chance most of us have said it before.

If we really think about it, though, this only comes to mind when we want to give ourselves an excuse for disrespecting someone we feel has first disrespected us. We too quickly take any perceived slight as an open invitation to lash out or hold a grudge against the offender. We speak harshly to them or give them the cold shoulder. We grumble and gossip about them and all the while feel justified because they treated us badly. In our all consuming feelings of insult, we may take to social media to extol our victimhood and show the world how we have been so shabbily treated. This would probably be about the time we end up telling anyone who will listen that, “Respect is a two way street, you know.”

The problem here is that this statement is wrong.

Respect is not a two way street. Sometimes, respect is a one way street with no jay walking allowed.

If we only respect those people who respect us, what have we done? What has made us different from the rest of the world? Where is Jesus in that? The answers to these questions are…nothing and nowhere.

Here’s a news flash: Jesus never asked for respect. Honestly, since He knew ahead of time what His mission was, that means He also knew ahead of time that He would not get respect. He came to this earth, on purpose, to be disrespected. He came to save the world with His life. If anyone, ever, had the right to feel victimized, it was surely Jesus. He gave up EVERYTHING for the very people who spit on Him, beat Him, and murdered Him. He did this for me and you and everyone else on earth. He didn’t do it for respect and He never played the victim.

If He never told us to respect Him, what did He tell us to do?

He told us to love one another. He told us to love God. He asked us to feed His sheep. He didn’t tell us to retaliate or hate or destroy. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t approve of us taking to Facebook to bash someone who spoke rudely to us.

He asked us to go. He told us to go to the ends of the earth to share the Good News with all the world. That includes the place where we are right now. Wherever we find ourselves as leaders, we are to share the Good News, both by our words and our deeds. As leaders, it is not alright to only respect those who respect us first, and then only for as long as they never slight us. We are to respect everyone, always, in every situation. That doesn’t mean I can’t call you out if you’ve done something wrong. Jesus did that. It does mean, though, that I must do it professionally and respectfully. I can look someone in the eye and tell them that they are not meeting the expectation of the job without being mean or hateful or aggressive. This may be really hard sometimes, but not so much if you consider the disrespect our souls cost Jesus on the cross.

Oh, and one more thing Jesus did say.

He told us to turn the other cheek.

Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

John 15:20-21, NIV

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Lead With Diligence

If you will lead, then do so with diligence.

Diligence is defined as steady, earnest effort.

The greatest leaders are passionate, engaged, and involved. They inspire their people to be the best they can be. Lackluster performance or a lazy attitude will sink any effort to achieve excellence. Your team will see through this faster than light through glass. The members of any team feed off the energy, or lack of energy, of the leader. If you expect your team to perform to high standards, you must perform your position with that same excellence that you expect. A lazy leader cannot achieve the best results. I often refer to these types of leaders as Cruise Directors, though I don’t mean that literally. I’m sure there are scads of awesome, passionate, engaged cruise directors out in the world. I am only referring to the look and feel of this type of leadership. I’m talking about the kind of person who moves through the workplace carrying a cup of coffee while directing the work of the employees. Pointing out more work for them to do with your coffee cup is demeaning to them. It is insulting and only undermines the morale of the team members. This is not engaging, it’s bossy.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Expecting the best of the team while performing to the bare minimum, personally, reflects a lack of integrity. Do not presume to tell someone to work harder while you sit in an office somewhere browsing Facebook or surfing the web. The people see what you are doing. They know what you are about. These leaders will struggle to maintain the respect and support of the team. Once you lose respect, you’ve lost the ability and freedom to lead. The loss of respect is almost always fatal to your personal brand.

Do As I Do

I will say, again, if you will lead, do so with diligence. Be at work on time. Study to stay ahead of your competitors, processes, procedures, or projects. Be prepared. Be respectful. Strive for excellence. Use your work time for work. Keep a positive attitude. Lead with passion. Feed your team the energy and drive to win.

Play your position to the best of your ability and expect those you lead to do the same.

For by the grace given me, I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you….We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us, If your gift … is to lead, do it diligently.

Romans 12:3, 6a, 8b