My son John-Peter recently finished his first year of college. He did very well and I’m proud of him. While he’s home, we’ve been (slowly) going through the book of Proverbs together. As a dad, I was enthusiastic for obvious reasons about John soaking in the beginning of Proverbs, chapter 3:
1 “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.” Proverbs 3:1-2. On occasion, these words have been more literal than not! (smile) And John-Peter is a great young man! In the biblical context from our Father in Heaven, these words have far greater impact, and to all of us, not just fathers and sons.
John-Peter trusts me as I walk him through these Scriptures. You either trust someone or you don’t. If you say, “I’m not sure if I trust her.” You don’t. When I give my car keys to my son, either I trust him or I don’t. I don’t sort of trust him, or trust him a little. As I guide my son through these young adult years, he either trusts me or he doesn’t. And I’m so glad he does, because trust is a choice. Trust is an intentional act of the will, not a fuzzy feeling that we sometimes have and sometimes misplace.
The absence or presence of trust is a core factor in life, so much so that whether its business, church, family or just a couple good friends meeting for coffee, it sets the stage for success or failure. The relationship at the center of all your success or failure is the one you experience with God. And just in case we missed it, He makes this point clear in His word:
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.9 Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. Proverbs 3:5-10
Trust doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s not just a front-end risk or a back-end reward. It’s not merely a promise without accountability. It’s not a principle without activity. Trust is a word that is alive and dynamic and it operates in a complex and moving context.
The following five points relate to everyone, but to you as a leader in particular about your trust in God. As a leader, you coach others to trust God. In order for you to do that well, it’s good to check-in on your own trust in God. The following is a sequence of connected components that build trust.
Faith is the foundation for your belief in God. Love is the foundation for your trust in God. We often talk in terms of trust being based on character and competence. On a merely human level, there is great truth to that. In fact, you can love someone but not trust them. But it doesn’t work that way with God. Trust and love are connected. If you love Him, and know He loves you, you trust Him. Verse 5 says “with all your heart”; that’s what it takes to fully trust God. It’s that trust that allows you to lean into Him.
“. . . Lean not on your own understanding” (v. 5). Honestly, which way do you lean? In order to respond, you need to think about where you lean for your answers, solutions and direction when you are under pressure. It’s too easy lean to God for wisdom when everything is going fine. It’s when you’re under pressure that you either instinctively depend upon God or depend upon yourself. If your church isn’t growing, or your marriage is struggling, or your health is challenged – whatever the case may be, do you really trust God? Or do you try to “fix” it on your own? It is a partnership, your part and God’s part, but if you trust Him, He takes the lead. If you lean into God, you will learn.
God is the source of all truth and wisdom. You can’t help but to learn from God when you love Him and lean into Him. What have you learned lately from God? What is He saying to you? How have you responded?
Psalm 25:1-5 captures the heart of this well:
1To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; 2 in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. 3 No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. 4 Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; 5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Do you trust enough what God is teaching you to act on it?
When you learn, you live better. You live stronger and at a higher level. Proverbs 3:8 says: “This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Let me back up one verse to explain. Proverbs 3:7 is saying that pride and being puffed up with yourself is stupid. Fear God and do the right thing. If you live this way, your physical health and well-being will benefit. How literal you want to take this is up to you. Of course there are Godly people who are ill. When this happens we all have questions. Your trust may be tested. In those times I often remember a quote by C.H. Spurgeon: “God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.” Wherever you land on this matter, remember that resisting God brings so much stress that your health is impacted in a negative way. Either way, you live better with God.
Loving God, leaning into God, learning from God, and living for God will result in significantly improved leadership. You can’t help but to lead better following this pattern of trust in God. I don’t think this is easy, but I do think it’s true.
Love God with your whole heart. Lean into Him not yourself. Learn and take action on what you learn. Live fully for God.
This article may feel a bit more like a “sermon” for leaders . . . but every once in a while that’s a good thing! Trust Him.
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