Just War vs. Holy War

I. Introduction and review.

II. War is a terrible evil.

A. Why is there war? Js. 4:1-2
Autonomous man will not be able to end war. Mark 24:6-7 Ecc. 3:1,8

B. War displeases God.

1. War violently destroys human life, which is in God’s image. Gen. 9:6 6:11

2. Warfare destroys property and damages the environment. Dt. 20:19-20 Ex. 20:15

3. Even in a just war, the shedding of blood grieves God. I Chron. 28:3

4. Human capacity to violently wage war continues to increase.

C. Our sovereign God uses human warfare for His good purposes. Ro. 8:28 Amos 3:6

1. God uses war to punish the wicked. Lev. 26:23-26,33 Isa. 1:19-20 10:5 Jer. 5:14f

2. All war is a foretaste of divine judgment. Rom. 1:18

3. War can have some good results.

D. We should not glory in war. Peace, not war, is glorified in Scripture as the consummation of God’s redemptive plan for humanity. Ps. 46:9 Isa. 2:4 9:6f 11:6-16

III. Is pacifism biblical?

A. Why would someone be a pacifist?

1. Some religious leaders are against war under any and all circumstances.

2. Pacifists apply principles of non-retaliation, which are directed to individuals, to nations. Ro. 12:17-21 (but see 13:4) Mt. 5:38ff Pr. 24:29 I Pe. 2:21 Isa. 53:7

3. Most pacifists have an unbiblically optimistic view of humanity. Ro. 3:10f 12:18

4. Pacifists claim that Jesus has implemented a higher standard of conduct.

5. Pacifists express some valid concerns. Rom. 12:18

6. It is possible for one to be against a particular war without being a pacifist.

B. The Bible does not teach pacifism.

1. Jesus, John the Baptist, and Peter recognized the legitimacy of soldiering as an occupation. Luke 3:14 7:9 Acts 10:2,22

2. Scripture recognizes that warfare will be ongoing. Mt. 24:6 22:7 Lu. 14:31

3. Old Testament warriors are honored as heroes of the faith. Heb. 11:32-34

4. The New Testament is full of soldiering metaphors. If warfare were inherently wrong, these would not be used. Ro. 8:37 I Co. 9:7 II Ti. 2:3 Eph. 6:14-17

5. Civil government has been authorized to use the sword of justice, not only to punish evildoers, but also to protect its citizens from external threats. Rom. 13:4

6. God uses warfare to accomplish His purposes. Ex. 15:3-4

IV. Holy War!

A. Under the Old Covenant, God waged holy war through Israel. Ex. 17:8-16 15:3-4 23 Dt. 7:16 20:5-18 24:5 Num. 31:1-54 II Sam. 5:19-20 Ps. 68:1-2,12,17 144:1

1. Israel was a theocracy. God was their King, Who led them into battle. Deut. 33:5

2. Israel’s warfare in the holy land prefigures the final judgment. Ge. 15:16 Le. 20:23 Ps. 18:9-15 104:1-4 98:1f Isa. 19:1 Deut. 20

3. God sent enemy nations to conquer unfaithful Israel. Dt. 28:49f Lev. 26:23-26,33

B. Christ is our Holy Warrior.

1. Old Covenant warfare prefigured the ultimate victory of Christ.

2. He has conquered Satan, sin and death. Co 2:13f Ro. 16:20 Jo. 12:31 Eph 1:19 4:7

I Co. 15:54-57 He. 2:8 I Jo. 3:8 Lu. 11:20-22 Phil. 2:9-11

3. Christ will return as a Holy Warrior bringing judgment. Re. 19:11f Da. 7:13 2:44

C. There is no holy nation, holy land, or holy war under the New Covenant. I Pe. 2:9f

1. King Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, not as a military leader, but as a spiritual conqueror. Mark 11 John 18:36 Mt. 26:52

2. The kingdom of God is spiritual under the New Covenant.

3. Many nations have falsely claimed or assumed theocratic status. Christendom

D. We are engaged in a holy spiritual war. Eph. 6:11f II Ti. 2:3-4 II Co. 10:3-5. Our commission is not to slay, but to convert the nations. Mt. 18:16f

V. Just war.

A. While there is no longer holy war, there may be just war in which civil government uses the sword of justice to protect people from theft, slavery, oppression and death.

B. Criteria for just war (Augustine: 400 AD with later refinements). Ecc. 3:1,8

1. War must be fought for a just cause. Rom. 13:3-4 Pr. 31:8-9

2. War must be fought under the direction of a legitimate authority. Romans 13:1-2

3. War must be fought with rightful intentions: to avoid evil or achieve good.

4. War must be fought for well-defined objectives.

5. War must be fought only as a last resort. Rom. 12:18 Mt. 5:9 Deut. 20:10

6. War must be conducted in an honorable manner. Mt. 7:12 Ex. 20:16 Ps. 15:4

7. War must be fought in a way, which protects non-combatants. Ex. 20:15,13 Pr.6:17

8. War must be fought with proportionate means to achieve the objectives. Dt. 20:19f

9. War must be fought only if there is a reasonable hope of success. Lu. 14:31-32 Pr. 20:18 24:6

C. Individuals also have an obligation to wage war in a just manner. Acts 5:29

1. It is not wrong to serve as a soldier and to fight in a just war.

2. If you are convinced a war is unjust, you must be a conscientious objector.

3. If you are told to conduct warfare in an unjust way, you should refuse orders.

D. Questions.

1. Is it ever permissible for citizens to overthrow their own government?

2. Is it right to fight another nation which is cruelly oppressing its people? Pr. 31:8-9

3. Are weapons of mass destruction immoral because they kill non-combatants?

4. Is pre-emptive warfare an option? Anticipatory self-defense. Esther 9

5. What is the best way to avoid war?

VI. Concluding applications: What should Christians do in times of war? Be good citizens.

A. Think biblically and critically.

1. Don’t confuse the kingdom of God with either pacifism or patriotism.

2. Beware of those who speculate about current events and biblical prophecy.

B. Pray for our rulers, our soldiers, and our enemies. I Tim. 2:1-4 Rom. 13:14 Mt. 5:44

C. Thank God for the religious and political freedom we enjoy.

D. Be engaged in spiritual warfare. Eph. 6:12 II Co. 10:3-5 II Ti. 2:3-4

E. Eagerly await the triumphant return of King Jesus. Rev. 11:15 19:11f 15:4 20:11f

Discussion Questions:

1. Why does God hate war?
2. How does God use war for good?
3. Why is pacifism unbiblical?
4. How was Holy War conducted under the Old Covenant?
5. How is Holy War conducted under the New Covenant?
6. In what sense is Christ a Holy Warrior?
7. What is the difference between a just war and a holy war?
8. What are the characteristics of a just war?
9. Under what circumstances should a Christian refuse to fight in a war?
10. What are the duties of a Christian citizen in times of war?


Exasperating Your Kids

1. Smothering overprotection.

Some parents exasperate their kids by never letting them do anything, fencing them in too much, always assuming they can’t be trusted. You’re gonna release them someday, why not make it a gradual process?

2. Spoiling with too much freedom.

This is the opposite. Kids do want boundaries, even though they might not say it. Studies prove that kids given too much freedom over time begin to feel insecure and unloved. I know I’ll take heat for this, but my wife and I are appalled at some Christian parents who just drop their middle schoolers off at the mall on a Friday night with a bunch of money and tell them to have fun, watch movies, whatever. Overprotection is bad, but some protection is beneficial.

3. Playing favorites.

This is a sure-fire way to exasperate a child: Give one special treatment or constantly compare one with his sibling. That’s a recipe for resentment. Ask Jacob.

4. Pressuring them to achieve.

Setting unrealistic goals for them and then withdrawing approval when they fail will kill a kid.

5. Being overly critical.

We discourage our kids when we always focus on what they do wrong and never notice what they do right. Try this and see how it changes the climate in your home. Ready? Catch ‘em doing something right, then do handstands. Remember, what gets rewarded gets repeated.

6. Reversing roles.

I’ve encountered some families where I wondered who the parent was and who the child was. Kids really do want their parents to act like parents.

7. Expressing conditional love.

Some parents express love and affection as a reward for achievement and withdraw love and affection as punishment for failure to achieve. That has devastating effects. “That’s how my daddy treated me?” Did you like it?

8. Vicariously living through them.

You know how this works: you never made the team, so, doggone it, your son is going to be a star! He’s gonna fulfil all your unfulfilled dreams. That’s a lot of pressure to be under. I played tennis for years and love tennis. I’ve had to deal with the reality that my oldest son hasn’t shown any interest. So I’ve taken an interest in soccer, which he loves.

9. Making them feel unwanted.

Do your kids feel like more of an intrusion or a blessing?

10. Excessive discipline.

Sometimes it’s good to wait a few minutes to clear your head before doling out discipline. I heard of a parent who grounded their kid for the whole summer because he got some C’s. Can’t do anything for 3 months? The discipline needs to fit the offense.

11. Inconsistent discipline.

Kids can get confused and frustrated when the deal keeps changing. “Last time you looked the other way. This time I get grounded. What’s the deal?” Years ago Fred Donelson gave us this parenting advice: Parent like God does: Have few rules, clearly communicated, and consistently enforced. If you have 756 rules, it’s hard to be consistent.

12. Failing to adapt your parenting style to their current stage of development.

13. Rules without a relationship.

This one might be the cause of more exasperation than any of the others. One man put it this way: rules without a relationship leads to rebellion.

Source: NewLife Church


It Is Within Your Reach

Mentors Open Doors, But You Yourself Must Enter
By Emmanuel Oluwatosin

Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter end. There are many plans in a man's heart, but the Lord's counsel will prevail. - Proverbs 19:20-21

What is it that you are trying to achieve? Start a business, go back to school, get that job or even get that promotion at work, or turn a bad situation into something good? It is within your reach.

In this world, even difficult situations present us with so many opportunities every day to achieve our goals. Do we take advantage of these opportunities or we just allow them to pass us by? I believe you know the answer in your heart. Your answer is the exact reason why you are where you are today. If things are not unfolding as you would like, it means you have to take action and explore other possibilities.

Exploring possibilities is a personal task. No one can do it for you. While your loved ones (family, spouses, mentors, etc.) may be able to provide you with the platform you need, the main responsibility is on you. Don't let others achieve your goals for you lest you will be at their mercy. You know what you want and must be ready to pay the price to achieve it. People around you (mentors, boss, parents, friends, etc.) can only show you the way. They may be able to teach and advise you and enable you to become a wise and effective human being. But taking the actual steps is your responsibility and it is only yours to make.

If you continually wait and hope for things to be different or for others to provide, then you will most likely remain a victim of circumstances. And really, how much fun is that? And how much fun do you think it is to be at the mercies of others? People can only do so much for you. Irrespective of what people tell you about being successful towards achieving your goal, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort. If you don’t have the drive to be successful, you are not going to succeed. So, here are some things that may help you move in the direction of your goals:

1. Make the commitment to reach your goal

“One person with a commitment is worth a hundred who only have an interest” – Mary Crowley.

Your goal is worth nothing without your commitment to follow through on it. You need to constantly remind yourself that nobody can achieve your goal for you. How committed are you to your goals?

2. Be prepared for change

Something are definitely not within your control. For instance in business goals; the foreign exchange fluctuation, radical changes in oil prices, inflation, interest rates, government policies, etc. are things that you can not control. Stick with your decision to move towards a goal – but be willing to change your direction to get there as conditions and circumstances demand.

3. Be accountable

Commit yourself to detailed accountability. Get a mentor that you know would be interested in you. Remember that the mentors are not there to help you achieve your goals. They are to ensure that you remain on the right track.

4. Give yourself another chance

Whether you will achieve your goals depends on how you respond to tough circumstances. Most people give up when all that they need is just to try one more time. Join the league of the few that succeed because they did not give up. Give yourself another chance.

5. Hang around with successful people

Being around successful people will make you want to be successful as well. Look for people that you know are going somewhere and engage them. You might need to go extra miles to build relationship with this set of people but it is worth the effort. Just remember that “iron sharpens iron”.

6. Get back to reality

Spending hours in front of TV, watching movies and even playing games is a great way to escape from reality. This may be fun but it will pull you away from your goals. While you may have immediate satisfaction, you may be sacrificing your future at the same time. Concentrate on your long-term goals and don’t get caught up in things that take you away from reality.

7. Stop thinking and start acting

There is a limit to how far thinking can take you. The best laid plans, the most comprehensive preparation, can still lead to nothing unless you endeavor to take the necessary action. No matter how strong and promising your thought, plans and preparations are, once you fail to act, you would still be heading no where. The action step does not have to be perfect but ensure you start acting on things.

8. Listen to success stories

There are a lot of biographies of successful people and case studies of different successful endeavors. Learn their secrets of succeeding as well as avoid their mistakes. Following these people would help in motivating yourself.

Above all, remember, the first step is to know and be certain of where you are going. If you do not know where you are going, you will undoubtedly end up somewhere else.

You can do better, you can achieve more, you can be the best God has created you to be. Start now to make your goals happen! It is never late to pursue worthy endeavors in life. Go for it!

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be healthy, even as your soul prospers. (3 John 1:2)

A man's heart plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weighs the motives. Commit your deeds to to the Lord, and your plans shall succeed. (Proverbs 16:2-3)

When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7)

Better is a little with righteousness, than great revenues with injustice. (Proverbs 16:8)


Doing Unto My Political Other

7 Tips for the Public Square
By Dr. John Mark Reynolds

The Torrey Honors Institute

Rhetoric detached from morality harms people and societies.

Political talk has had an ugly side, but things are getting worse. Hateful talk is no longer underground, but practiced openly and shamelessly. Mainstream politicians are more willing to tolerate association with fringe rhetoric.

Why is this so?

Is There a Breakdown in Shared Ethics?

It is hard to talk to someone when you have nothing in common.

Some research suggests that Americans share many common values, but this research obscures differences in how we prioritize values when goods come into conflict. For example, most American value personal liberty, but when it comes to health care many Americans place a lower priority on this than on a strong social safety net. Those that make the opposite choice, valuing liberty over services, seem cruel to the other camp.

They agree on the values, but have fundamental differences on how to apply them.

Persistent and pervasive ethical differences can begin to strain the republic's politics by discouraging compromise. When the gap between our assumptions and our opponents grows too large, our opponents become not just wrong, but perverse or wicked. Nobody hastens to compromise with the immoral!

The results are bad when pressed to an extreme. Some Americans will not even listen to a fair exposition of moral views with which they disagree, even if the majority of the nation believes them.

American Christians should not behave this way. Jesus called us to love our enemies in a nation ruled by cruel Caesars. Any religion that can love Tiberius can surely find room to love Obama or Gingrich.

Seven Suggestions for Political Discourse

Living in a republic means making political decisions. From Socrates to Reagan, wise political heads have given good advice on how to conduct oneself in public life. I don't always live up to their wisdom, but these ideas are worthy goals.

1. Be slow to speak.

The new media environment lends itself to haste. We size up a candidate or a policy in the blink of an eye and few encourage us to reevaluate the situation. "Blinking" may sometimes be necessary in a crisis, but it is a horrific way to form our general principles and opinions.

2. Strong opinions encourage authentic dialogue.

One bad reaction to a toxic political environment is to develop mushy and "inoffensive" public opinions, but it is hard to talk to people who will not say what they really think. We should argue hard for our ideas in the public square and see how things turn out.

Arguing forcefully helps minority opinions get a hearing. If we relegate ourselves to safe discourse, the tendency is to repeat what the present cultural power brokers accept with small variations.

3. Attacking ideas is different than attacking people.

Ideas have no feelings, but people do. Hurtful talk about actual people, and the President and Glenn Beck are real people, ought to be merited by their actual behavior. We must weigh harm done to their persons against harm they are doing. While it ought to be legal to call the President the "Antichrist," nobody should do it without overwhelming proof.

An actual Hitler or Stalin (in the modern context one thinks North Korea's Dear Leader) is a worthy target for pointed personal barbs, but the local zoning board member rarely is. American politicians are often wrong, but it is hard to think of any that merit comparison to the Taliban or to the present Chinese oligarchs.

Those are real bad guys.

4. Authenticity is useful, but posturing is not.

Few things are more irritating than reading a piece that seems written to get the writer "good-guy" points with the establishment in his or her own group. This happens on both the left and right and is a temptation for all of us. Instead of saying what we think, we write to curry favor with our betters in hopes of praise or reward.

5. Anti-intellectualism prevents discussion.

The United States is not a pure democracy for the very good reason that a majority of the people can be and often are wrong. Democracy killed Socrates and mob rule in France killed liberty during the French Revolution.

Experts are not always right, but they usually are. Christians have always understood that a calling to leadership most often requires intense training and hard work. We are people of the Book and thus long for literate leaders as well. An excellent model was an Englishman whose work helped shape American culture: John Wesley.

The great evangelist and shaper of English culture John Wesley was at home in the pulpits of Oxford and on the streets. He was well educated and could argue well, but also knew how to move men's hearts. There is no anti-intellectualism to be found in Wesley and he was no blind admirer of popular trends.

The recent trend to worship the whims of the mob, even the Christian mob, smacks more of Robespierre than Wesley.

6. Intellectualism prevents authentic discussion.

Just as bad is the posture that feigns intellectual interest, but never really listens to opponents.

President Obama has done a good job talking about finding common ground, but he has sometimes communicated a sneering attitude towards those who persist in disagreeing with him. He is not alone in this attitude as many in the cultural elite confuse their own jargon with knowledge and professional skills with wisdom.

It is easy to confuse the trappings of intellectuals with being an intellectual. Mainstream media often is more interested in someone sounding "smart" than in his or her actual accomplishments. Especially if accent or ethnicity does not fit stereotypes of intellectual achievement the candidate will face a higher barrier to acceptance. Having the "right opinions" also allows for a greater pass from the media in this area. A medical doctor like Tom Coburn is not given the same presumption of intellectual acumen as people with "better" opinions.

Sometimes commentators confuse intellectual achievements with wisdom. University or college education is valuable, but it is not the only way to learn important truths. In particular there is no evidence that most American college education by itself is making us wiser. Wisdom can exist in many different types of people and can be gained from many different kinds of experience.

Resentment of this intellectualism breeds more anti-intellectualism that in turn breeds more intellectualism. Real dialogue vanishes.

7. Be charitable in your assumptions about your opponent.

This last really sums up all the rest. It can be summed up in the wisdom of Jesus Christ that we should do to others what we wish they would do to us. Never was this advice more important for American Christians who are involved in politics.

John Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, and Professor of Philosophy at Biola University. In 1996 he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Rochester. John Mark Reynolds can be found blogging regularly at Scriptorium Daily.


On Character And Reputation

By Tim Nichols

Reputation is not everything. Character is much more important. A reputation that is gained without character is hypocrisy. A reputation that grows out of a good character is simply giving honor to whom honor is due.

Character is within your power. Reputation is a thing over which you have little control.

Character cannot be taken away from you by any man. Lies can steal your reputation.

Striving for character is strength. Aiming solely at reputation is weakness.

Character endures difficulty. Reputation seekers are confused when difficulty arises.

Character seeks to do what is right. Reputation seekers seek to do what is acceptable to the most mortals.

Integrity, honesty, clarity, and honor are valued by men and women of Character. Vagueness, indistinct communication, and craftiness are hallmarks of reputation-seekers.

The man with character can stand alone when duty calls upon him to do so. The reputation seeker will not stand alone under any circumstances.

The man with character tries to clearly and honestly speak the truth and openly invites others to examine it. The reputation seeker aims at acceptance and therefore makes vague statements that can be interpreted in ways acceptable to the hearer.

The man of character speaks the truth as clearly and kindly as he is able at all times and under all circumstances. The reputation seeker speaks the truth with boldness only when he is assured that those who are significant to him will applaud.

The man of character is often out in front, regardless of who is following. The reputation seeker cannot lead the way because he cannot move in any direction until he is assured that the army is already headed that way.

The reputation seeker is confused by the man of character. He tends to assume that all men are motivated as he is and he attempts to manipulate others by dangling before them the golden carrot of approval and by goading them on with the spear of disapproval. His arguments are often shallow and when he cannot convince others with reasonable discussion he attempts to intimidate with threats of harming the reputation of the man of character. He is shocked, perturbed, and disgusted when his petty attempts at coercion are ignored by the one who is examining his own heart and his own Bible rather than opinion polls.

The godly man of character has a genuine light that shines for all the world to see. When right-thinking men see it they glorify God (Matthew 5:16). The reputation seeker has no real light, but he works very hard at giving the impression that he does. His artificial light changes color as it radiates in different directions. It is adjusted so that men who see it will glorify him.

Sometimes men of character deservedly own a fine reputation among men. This is desirable above great physical wealth (Proverbs 22:1). But a fine reputation is not to be desired above character. False teachers have always enjoyed fine reputations among some segment of the people (Luke 6:26). They, along with other hypocrites of their stripe, have traded character for reputation and have received the only reward they will ever see (Matthew 6:1-21). Only a man of character can "rejoice and be exceedingly glad" when he is wrongly persecuted and when men say all kinds of evil against him falsely because of his practice of Christianity (Matthew 5:10-12). The reputation seeker will fall apart at such times.

Only the man of character can truly teach and practice the truth without partiality (1 Timothy 5:21, James 3:17). He is not moved by the potential influence of his hearers upon the opinions of others. He does not challenge the sins of those without influence while ignoring those of opinion leaders. All are treated equally by him. The reputation seeker "pets the big dogs" and kicks the helpless ones if doing so will please the "big dogs."

Reputation seekers tend to, sometimes subtly, point at their degrees and awards hanging on the walls and suggest that you ought to respect their opinions because they have been respected by influential men in high places. Men of character point at the Bible and suggest that God's word is alone worthy of your trust and that all opinions ought to be weighed upon God's scales.

Men of character are able to say, "I was mistaken" when they are able to discover errors in themselves. They clearly defend what they have said or done when they are accused of errors that they, themselves, cannot detect. Reputation seekers, on the other hand, are quick to say that they have been "taken out of context" even when their words clearly mean what they appear to mean when placed in their context. Their "clarifications" are often very imprecise and unclear. Since many approved of them for what they did say they cannot retreat from it. Since some disapprove of what they said they cannot directly own it. Their fence-straddling seldom wins for them the approval of both sides and it often backfires and causes them to earn the displeasure of both. Honesty and consistency go out the window when reputation is the goal. They are obvious and apparent when character is the objective.

Work to become a man or woman of character. Begin on the inside. The outside will follow. Those who love truth and right, though they be few, will love you. God will love and reward you. When you look in the mirror you will be able to approve of what you see. The transient applause of men cannot match the authentic approval of heaven or that of your own conscience.

Six Basic Pillars of Character

1. Trustworthiness

• Be honest
• Don’t deceive, cheat or steal
• Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do
• Have the courage to do the right thing
• Build a good reputation that emanates from your true core
• Be loyal — stand by your family, friends and country

2. Respect

• Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule
• Be tolerant of differences
• Use good manners, not bad language
• Be considerate of the feelings of others
• Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone
• Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements

3. Responsibility

• Do what you are supposed to do
• Persevere: keep on trying!
• Always do your best
• Use self-control
• Be self-disciplined
• Think before you act — consider the consequences
• Be accountable for your choices

4. Fairness

• Play by the rules
• Take turns and share
• Be open-minded; listen to others
• Don’t take advantage of others
• Don’t blame others carelessly

5. Caring

• Be kind
• Be compassionate and show you care
• Express gratitude
• Forgive others
• Help people in need

6. Citizenship

• Do your share to make your community and country better
• Cooperate
• Get involved in community affairs
• Stay informed; vote
• Be a good neighbor
• Obey laws and rules
• Respect authority
• Protect the environment


Momentum Breakers vs. Momentum Makers

By John C. Maxwell
Philippine Daily Inquirer

A train traveling 55 miles per hour on a railroad track can crash through a 5-foot thick steel-reinforced concrete wall without stopping. That same train, starting from a stationary position, won’t be able to go through an inch-thick block in front of the driving wheel.

It is never the size of your problem that is the problem. It’s a lack of momentum. Without momentum, even a tiny obstacle can prevent you from moving forward. With momentum, you’ll navigate through problems and barely even notice them.

As a leader, your responsibility is to understand momentum, to get it moving for your organization, and to sustain it over time. Momentum can be tricky to comprehend, though, often appearing elusive and intangible.

In this article, my goal is to give you handles so that you can better recognize how to generate momentum in your workplace. To help you grasp the concept of momentum, I’ll outline 10 momentum breakers alongside 10 momentum makers.

Momentum breaker - Doublemindedness
Momentum maker - Focus

By creating and following a clear and focused vision statement, a leader develops momentum. A leader drains away momentum by shooting at nothing or attempting everything.

Movement causes friction. When you paint a target for your team, you’ll likely encounter resistance. As a leader, you can’t restrict yourself by living inside of someone else’s comfort zone. Great accomplishments require leaders to fix their gaze beyond what’s easily attainable.

Momentum breaker - The past
Momentum maker - The future

An organization picks up steam when its leaders point to a better tomorrow. Momentum breaks down when leaders preoccupy themselves with the past. Or, as I’ve heard quoted, “Losers yearn for the past and get stuck in it. Winners learn from the past and let go of it.”

Many people have powerful dreams. However, most don’t realize that the viability of their ideal tomorrow is based on what they do today. The difference between a dream and wishful thinking is what you’re doing now. Practice today what you want to be tomorrow. If you do it well enough, someday you may arrive at your dream.

Momentum breaker - Individualism
Momentum maker - Teamwork

If you want to kill momentum, then insist on doing things by yourself. Momentum grows through team victories in which numerous people can claim to have played a role. The level of celebration on a team depends upon the level of participation.

Momentum breaker - Critical attitude
Momentum maker - Constructive attitude

Tennis great Chris Evert said it best, “The thing that separates good players from great ones is mental attitude. It might only make a difference of two or three points over an entire match, but how you play those key points often makes the difference between winning and losing.”

Momentum breaker - Tradition
Momentum maker - Creativity

Don’t tear down the fence until you understand why it was built. At the same time, relentlessly question the logic, “that’s how we have always done it.” What worked in the past may be outdated and could hold you back in the future.

Momentum breaker - Apathy
Momentum maker - Passion

Passion energizes your talent and rubs off on those around you. If you have courage, then you will influence people based on your passionate convictions. If you lack courage, then you will only influence people to the extent of your comfort zone.

Momentum breaker - Dishonesty
Momentum maker - Character

Character is the sum total of our everyday choices. It cannot be built overnight. A trustworthy leader has a much easier time generating momentum than a leader with a reputation of being manipulative and deceitful.

Momentum breaker - Conformity
Momentum maker - Change

As John F. Kennedy said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” Sticking with the status quo won’t create an ounce of momentum. Although it’s difficult and may demand sacrifice, change is required to build momentum.

Momentum breaker - Ingratitude
Momentum maker - Gratitude

As a Chinese proverb states, “Those who drink the water must remember those who dug the well.” No one can claim to be self-made. Whatever accomplishments we attain in life have connections to the goodwill and support of those around us. When we express thankfulness for the benefits bestowed upon us by friends and colleagues, then those people are more apt to aid us again in the future.

Momentum breaker - Indecision
Momentum maker - Action

I am never overly impressed with idea people. Anyone who takes a long shower can come up with a good idea. I’m impressed with a person who has the tenacity and discipline to make ideas happen.

I’ve seen many leaders break the momentum on their team by succumbing to the paralysis of analysis. Leaders have to act with incomplete information. You can never know all of the variables. Momentum and risk go hand in hand. As a leader, if you always play it safe, then you’ll never inspire excitement in those you lead.

I’ll leave you with a simple assignment. Assess your personal momentum. Are you speeding through the obstacles in your life or struggling to surmount even the smallest problems? What is responsible for your momentum or lack thereof? Do you recognize any of the momentum makers or breakers in your personal leadership?


Who Are The Members Of Your Inner Circle?

A Leader’s Inner Circle
By John C. Maxwell

The law of the inner circle: A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him or her. Failures of a leader’s trusted advisers can bring disaster.

Five key questions to ask when forming your inner circle:

1. Do they display exemplary character in everything they do?

Deception eats away at a leadership team like cancer. Dishonesty on the part of one member of an inner circle can bring shame and disaster to all. Entire organizations have toppled from the misbehavior of one bad apple.

2. Do they bring complementary gifts to the table?

Imbalance within an inner circle can attune a leader’s ear to only one side of an argument. When putting together an inner circle, prioritize diversity of personality and perspective. By doing so, you widen the range of your vision and the breadth of your influence.

3. Do they hold a strategic position and have influence within the organization?

Members of the inner circle must have the platform and influence to implement a leader’s decisions. If they cannot be relied upon to execute a chosen strategy, then they shouldn’t be entrusted with a spot on the leadership team. In addition, inviting uninfluential advisers into the inner circle disrupts the political balance of an organization. High performers suffer a motivational blow when they see a less deserving colleague granted special access to top leadership.

4. Do they add value to the organization and to the leader?

When considering someone for the inner circle, you should be able to articulate clearly the value they will bring. Ask yourself the following questions: What will they infuse into discussion? Where do they have expertise? What unique skills can they be counted on to bring to the table?

5. Do they positively impact other members of the inner circle?

If you’ve ever inhabited a house with a feuding husband and wife, then you can understand the need for leaders in close proximity to get along. Infighting saps energy and focus from a senior leader, forcing him or her to mediate conflicts with time that could be better spent elsewhere. Differences of opinion signal healthy debate, but personal animosities destroy a leadership team. Make sure members of your inner circle have the emotional intelligence to keep arguments from becoming too personal. We’ve looked at the questions to consider when gathering a team of trusted advisers, I’d also like to offer thoughts on the two traps you can fall into when forming their inner circle.

Two common errors in constructing the inner circle:

1. Soliciting praise instead of candor.

Stacking an inner circle with flatters and “yes” men ranks among the lousiest decisions you can make as a leader. Doing so restricts your perspective, exposes you to blind spots and leaves you on an island when do-or-die decisions must be made. When picking members of your inner circle, be sure they have the gumption to voice dissent. You’ll rely on them to question your assumptions, to focus you on the mission and to measure the integrity and worthiness of your ideas.

2. Driving away talent so that your power isn’t threatened.

The wisdom of accumulating a talented inner circle may seem intuitive, but a rising star may threaten insecure leaders. Leaders should not be, and cannot be, the utmost authorities on all matters germane to the organization. Invariably, people have weaknesses. Wise leaders staff around their weaknesses, and welcome talent in areas where they lack strength.

Blessed is the man who doesn't walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the way of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers. (Psalms 1:1)

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. (Proverbs 12:15)

Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established. (Proverbs 15:22)

Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. (Proverbs 19:20)

There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.(Proverbs 19:21)

Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.(Proverbs 20:5)


The Principle of the Path

Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

By Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Andy Stanley's new book, The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, (Thomas Nelson, 2008).

Whether it’s a struggling marriage, a mountain of debt, or a dead-end job, you never meant to be where you find yourself now. You had the best of intentions. So how did you end up in such a mess?

Decision by decision, you followed a certain path that ultimately led to your current destination. But the good news is that if you don’t like where you’ve ended up, you can change direction to start heading toward where you want to be.

Here’s how you can get from where you are to where you want to be:

Learn the principle of the path. The principle of the path says: "Direction – not intention – determines our destination." You’ll win or lose at life by the paths you choose, and each daily decision you make points you in a certain direction.

Identify the paths you’ve chosen so far. What decisions have you made that over time have led you to either right or wrong paths? When have you followed paths that have headed in the right direction for you to fulfill your values, goals, dreams, or commitments? When have you followed paths that led away from what’s most important and taken you to places that you didn’t want to go?

Make connections. You need to connect your desires with your direction in life. Ask yourself: “Are there disconnects in my life?”, “Are there discrepancies between what I desire in my heart and what I’m doing with my life?”, and “Is there alignment between my intentions and my direction?”.

Choose specific paths with specific destinations in mind. Since today and tomorrow are connected, look as far down the road as possible when making decisions. Ask yourself: “In light of my past experience, and my future hopes and dreams, what’s the wise thing to do?” Pray for God to help you see trouble coming before it arrives, the wisdom to know what to do when you see warning signs, and the courage to do it so you won’t have regrets later.

Tell yourself the truth. Simply following your heart is dangerous when making decisions, because your heart can’t be trusted. In this fallen world, you’ll always have the ability to lie to yourself, act on those lies, and defend the lies with excuses. Come clean with yourself about the uncomfortable truth behind your choices so you’ll be free to move from where you are to where you want to be. What’s the real reason you moved in with your boyfriend or girlfriend, filed for divorce, ran up credit card debt, drink so much alcohol, quit going to church, etc.? Keep your heart in check. Ask yourself: “Why am I doing this, really?”, “If someone in my circumstances came to me for advice, what course of action would I recommend?” and “In light of my past experience, and my future hopes and dreams, what’s the wise thing to do?”

Submit to the One who knows where each path leads. The key to finding the right path isn’t information; it’s submission to God, who sees the whole picture and knows what’s best for you. When considering options, trust God rather than your own understanding. When conventional wisdom conflicts with biblical truth, choose what the Bible has to say. When your emotions conflict with God’s law, harness your emotions and lean into God’s law. Acknowledge the limitations of your own knowledge, as well as the fact that God knows everything. When you wrestle with submitting all your decisions fully to God, ask yourself: “Why do I hesitate to give God full access to every part of my life?”, “What do I fear will happen on the other side of that decision?”, and “What is the most difficult area of my life to yield control?”

Consider the story your life will tell. What kind of legacy will you leave after you die? When people look back at your life, will it tell them a story you’re proud of, or one that you regret? As you face every decision, keep in mind that you can never accomplish God’s will by breaking His law, violating His principles, or ignoring His wisdom. Ask yourself whether or not God has already spoken on the matter you’re considering by searching the Scriptures about it. To figure out if the options you’re considering violate one of God’s principles, ask yourself: “What outcome am I expecting from this decision?” and “Does the option I’m considering now naturally lead to that outcome?”

Tap into the wisdom of others. You have certain limits to your own personal experiences and knowledge, but you can always learn something valuable from others. No one ever gets to the place where he or she no longer needs wise counsel. So find people you trust and admire – those who are good influences on your life. Who has the kind of marriage you’d like? Who seems to have done a good job of managing money? Who has a family life you’d like to enjoy yourself? Ask people for their advice, and heed it.

Pay attention. Whatever you give your attention to influences the direction of your life. So consider whether or not you’re giving your attention to the right people and situations. Is there something that’s distracting you by drawing your attention away from what matters most? Who or what do you need to start paying more attention to, instead of making excuses: your kids, your health, your spiritual growth, your savings account? Ask God to reveal what your priorities should be and to give you the strength you need to discipline yourself to keep those priorities in mind when making daily decisions. Pause before devoting your attention to anyone or anything; pray about your decision first. Then be sure to give your full attention to whoever and whatever deserves it most.

Deal with disappointment. Unfortunately, some destinations are unreachable because dreams won’t come true. If you find that you can’t get to the place you’d like to be, don’t despair or try to make something happen anyway, since that won’t lead you any closer to your desired destination. Instead, go ahead and mourn the loss of your dream. Then place your trust in God. Tell God that you want His will for your life rather than your own. Keep believing and keep following in the direction that God leads, which, even though you may not have chosen it, will ultimately lead you to the right destination.

Adapted from The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, copyright 2008 by Andy Stanley. Published by Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.

Andy Stanley is a pastor, communicator, author, and the founder of North Point Ministries, Inc. (NPM). Since its inception in 1995, North Point Ministries has grown from one campus to three in the Atlanta area, and has helped plant 14 strategic partner churches throughout the United States. Each Sunday, more than 20,000 adults attend worship services at one of NPM’s three campuses. Andy’s books include It Came From Within, Communicating for a Change, Making Vision Stick, and The Next Generation Leader. Andy lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, with his wife, Sandra, and their three children.


The High Road Principle

By John C. Maxwell
Philippine Daily Inquirer

“It's nothing personal; it’s just business,” is a commonly heard phrase in the workplace. However, I tend to disagree with anyone who tries to “impersonalize” business. At its heart, commerce is a human enterprise, founded upon relationships between people.

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours in our business or at work, and our vocations endow our lives with meaning or purpose. When we devote ourselves to profession, we’re giving a piece of who we are to our work. In that sense, business is deeply personal.

In the workplace, as in the rest of life, relationships get messy.

Sooner or later, we will be mistreated. A boss will unjustly fault our performance, a partner will fail to honor an agreement, or a co-worker will cut us down in a meeting.

Since business is personal, those instances hurt us, and unless dealt with correctly, they can derail us. As leaders, we have to commit to taking the high road when others, intentionally or unintentionally, wrong us.

Traveling the high road

1) It’s not what happens to you, but in you that really matters.

During the Civil War, Confederate General W.H.C. Whiting envied rival General Robert E. Lee. Consequently, Whiting spread vicious rumors about Lee in an attempt to smear his character. Lee had the opportunity to get even, though.

Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, was considering Whiting for a promotion, and he consulted Lee’s opinion of the general. Without hesitation, Lee endorsed and commended Whiting. The officers who witnessed the exchange were astonished. Afterward, one of them asked Lee if he had forgotten all of the slander Whiting had spread about him.

“I understand that the President wanted to know my opinion of Whiting, responded Lee, not his opinion of me.” Lee did what high road travelers do. He refused to be dragged into a game of bickering and petty jealousies by treating another person with respect, even when that respect seemed unwarranted.

2) High roaders see their own need for grace. Therefore, they extend it to others.

Let’s face it; we all screw up from time to time. Each of us has quirks that we know can be annoying, and bad moments when we’re not so pleasant to be around.

People who take the high road recognize their humanness, know that they need to be extended grace, and accordingly are more likely to extend it to others.

3) High roaders are not victims. They choose to serve others.

People who take the high road don’t do so because it’s the only available option. They don’t do it by accident either: the high road goes uphill and takes more effort to travel. Instead, high roaders choose their path as a conscious act of service to others. By taking the high road, they drain animosity and bitterness out of relationships, serving to keep them open and productive.

Interestingly, in serving others, higher roaders benefit themselves, too. As the author of Proverbs wrote, “It is a man’s glory to overlook an offense.” When we maturely respond to a slight by showing forgiveness, we display admirable character that elevates us in the eyes of others.

4) High roaders set high standards for themselves than others would.

Abandoned as an infant, author James Michener never knew his biological parents. Fortunately, he was taken in and raised by a widow, and he adopted her surname. However, each time James published a book, he received nasty notes from one member of the Michener clan. The relative chastised James for taking on the Michener name, which this person felt the novelist had no right to use.

Despite being berated, Michener did agree with one statement his relative had made, “Who do you think you are, trying to be better than you are?” As James Michener professed, “I’ve spent my life trying to be better than I was, and I am a brother to all who share the same aspiration.”

When we conduct ourselves according to the highest standard, we are less likely to become defensive and take the low road when others attack us. Once you’ve done all that you can, then you can let the noise of detractors roll off your back like rain.


In leadership, as in life, others will behave unkindly toward you. When ill-treated, don’t retreat into a defensive mode or strike back in anger. Instead, take the high road and discover how rising above offenses frees you from petty arguments and adds to your reputation.