Spiritual Leadership

Steve Arterburn

 

 

In an article in Psychology Today, psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple wrote that twenty years earlier, when he first began to practice, no one ever complained of a lack of self-esteem or of hating himself. Now, he wrote, hardly a week goes by without a patient making that complaint. One young man concerned about his low self-image came to visit him. In fact, the young man and his mother said this condition caused him to beat up his pregnant girlfriend, which resulted in a miscarriage.

The doctor said to him, ‘It couldn’t be the other way around, could it?’

‘What do you mean,’ replied the young man.

‘That your behavior,’ said the doctor ’caused you to have a poor opinion of yourself.’

The patient, of course, wasn’t too happy with this suggestion.

I like the question Dalrymple posed to this young man, and I think it bears consideration. When a man sees himself as inadequate it is for one of two reasons:

Either he literally doesn’t have the ability necessary to be adequate (for example, I am inadequate to perform brain surgery)

Or, he has the ability but has retreated into a passive place.

Have you allowed your passive behavior to create a self-image of inadequacy? Perhaps you don’t feel adequate to lead your family or to love your wife. I think a change of behavior would go a long way toward dispelling this image. Sometimes the head and hands have to lead, to show the heart where to go.

Temptation To Doubt

Steve Arterburn

 

 

The serpent’s words in the Garden of Eden were intended to plant a seed of doubt in the human heart. They subtly called God’s goodness into question, and as a result, challenged the basis upon which God’s trustworthiness rested. ‘Did God really say you mustn’t eat the fruit? Oh, you won’t surely die! God just knows that if you eat the fruit, you’ll become like Him.’

 

Notice how similar these words are to those spoken by the devil to Jesus in the desert. ‘If you’re the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.’ In other words, ‘Come on! Your Father isn’t providing for your needs. Just look at you. But, all isn’t lost. You simply have to trust in yourself. Take matters into your own hands. You are the Son of God, aren’t you?’

 

Both instances suggest that God is withholding something good. They also imply that it’s always bad to be without something we believe would be good to have.

 

In Eve’s case, the serpent implied that being without one particular fruit proved God’s selfishness. In Jesus’ case, the devil implied that being without food was an unacceptable condition for one claiming to be the Son of God.

 

These instances are consistent with what temptation looks life in your own life. Satan wants you to doubt God’s goodness, stray from His promises, and become, in effect, your own lord. Men, think about Satan’s methods and strategies, and set yourselves wholeheartedly against them.

The Cross-Shaped Christian Life

Steve Arterburn

 

 

The triumph of the cross is the pattern for the Christian life. In the death of Christ we witness the death of death itself. Through the cross, Christ defeated your worst and last enemy. He won the war. And in this same way, you’re to fight the remaining battles, confident that the outcome is decided and in your favor.

 

Reading the gospel sets your thinking in a completely different direction than that of personal potential and self-empowerment’things our society put such a high value to. The gospel calls you to be out of step with the world. You and I must die in order to live. We lose our lives in order to find them. We become strong by becoming weak.

 

Yet we too often lack the courage and conviction to embrace these gospel paradoxes. Instead, we look at our needs, wants, and desires and formulate a plan we expect God to honor in order to meet them. This keeps us focused on getting our own way rather than on releasing God’s redemptive power in our lives.

 

How different this is from praying ‘Your will be done”Jesus’ prayer as He went to the cross. The world looks upon this and sees weakness, vulnerability,’and foolishness. Yet, if you believe the Bible, you believe the apostle Paul when he says the cross is the power and wisdom of God.

 

Men, we’re not better than our Master. Jesus Christ’s life was cross-shaped, and ours should be also.