Sharpening vision, shaping values, & sharing adventures in christian leadership. Since 1991, the Arrow Leadership Program has been actively engaged in Christian leadership development; helping leaders to grow from the inside out. We have seen how strategically investing in a Christian leader, transforms that leader and their community.
This title may sound like the start of another very well-deserved tribute to the amazing life and tremendous legacy of Billy Graham, but this article is about another spiritual giant. His name was Evon Hedley.
Evon was a contemporary and friend of Billy Graham but I don’t think his name was ever up in lights or on a marquee. That’s why his homecoming at age 102 (five days after Mr. Graham) didn’t cause an international buzz or social media sensation. Yet Evon was and is a spiritual giant.
I first met Evon in 2000 when I was a participant in the Arrow Leadership Program. Evon was an on-site mentor who became a special encourager, wise mentor and prayerful supporter in my life.
Evon’s life is an amazing story of God at work. Though there’s much that could be written, I’m going to focus just on Evon’s impact and legacy as a mentor. It’s a profound illustration of the Parable of the Sower – the seed that produces 30, 60, or 100 times what was sown.
Two years ago, I was invited to Evon’s 100th birthday. He was having several celebrations, but this party was for just his mentees. Over his years, Evon intentionally invested his life walking alongside over 100 others through mentoring. The list included pastors, musicians, marketplace leaders, doctors, lawyers, bankers and others scattered across North America and beyond. As I listened to the tributes from several dozens of these mentees along with their spouses and children, I was moved to learn that at least two mentees named their children after Evon.
From his early days, Evon had a heart for intentionally and prayerfully coming alongside younger leaders. One of these leaders has a very special connection to the ministry of Arrow Leadership. Many years ago, Evon was sharing the vision to reach youth for Christ in Chatham, Ontario and challenged a tall, young man in the group to lead the charge. That young man, only 14 at the time, was Leighton Ford.
As Dr. Leighton Ford writes, “[Evon] stayed close to me, guided me, encouraged me, sometimes scolded me a bit, sent traveling speakers our way, and included me in leadership gatherings.” You likely know that Leighton Ford married Billy Graham’s sister and went on to serve globally as an evangelist with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Leighton then launched the Arrow Leadership Program in 1991 to focus on developing Christian leaders who are led more by Jesus, lead more like Jesus and lead more to Jesus.
With Evon’s early mentoring of Leighton Ford and then the launch of the Arrow Leadership Program, you can catch a small glimpse of just one wave of the ripple effect of Evon’s life. As Evon invested in Leighton Ford’s life, Leighton invested in many others — including Dr. Carson Pue who would go on to be Arrow’s President. Carson in turn invested in many more leaders, including me. For the last fourteen years I have had the privilege of walking alongside leaders who are in turn investing in many others. This generational mentoring trail leads back to one faithful mentor—Evon.
To share one personal story, a couple of years ago I was feeling overwhelmed and I needed some perspective. So, I called Evon. I asked him if he remembered the pressures and challenges he faced in his forties. To my surprise and despite his very good memory, Evon said that he didn’t really remember those times. His answer gave me very needed fresh perspective that it’s quite possible that what seems overwhelming today won’t really matter or even be remembered when I’m in my nineties.
I followed up with this question, “Evon can you think of what you would do differently in your forties?” His answer was instant, “I’d love people more.”
One of the repeated themes from the mentees at Evon’s 100th birthday was his steadfast love, faithful prayers and relentless encouragement. Virtually every time I finished talking with Evon I heard these words, “Steve, I love you. I’m proud of you and I’m praying for you every day.” Those words are precious gifts that I believe every leader and Christ-follower needs to regularly hear.
Can you think of an Evon in your life? If so, I encourage you to send them a note or make a call to thank and bless them for their impact on your life. If they have already left this world, then contact their spouse or family and thank them.
Could you be an Evon? You don’t need to be famous to used by God to make a tremendous impact. You just need to be faithful, available and intentional in walking alongside others.
Imagine if all of us followed Evon’s example and intentionally walked alongside others for God’s purposes and glory? Like Evon’s, the ripple effect would be far more than we can ever imagine!
Too often these kinds of words describe the head and heart space of Christian leaders.
After all, this type of head and heart space easily breeds in hectic ministry and work environments. When there are non-stop competing demands, constant and chaotic changes, and complex decisions to navigate, it follows that leaders find themselves scattered, unfocused and eventually worn down.
Thankfully, Jesus points us to a different way.
In Mark 1:21-34 Jesus had had an incredible day. He started by teaching in the synagogue, then visited a friends’ mother-in-law (and healed her) and then, in the evening, the whole town gathered at his door with all the sick and demon-possessed. Many with various diseases were healed and many demons were driven out.
Quite a day! Invigorating, unforgettably intense and likely spiritually, emotionally and physically exhausting.
The next morning, when everyone woke up, they began to look for Jesus. After the miraculous night before, they likely longed to see Jesus do even more. But Simon and his companions couldn’t find Jesus. He was gone!
As Mark writes in 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.” Jesus had chosen to pull away. He likely needed space to catch his breath, to give thanks, to enjoy intimacy with Father and Spirit, to process what had happened, to guard his heart from the expectations and praise of others and to listen closely for whatever God was calling him to next.
When Simon found Jesus he didn’t find a frazzled, frenetic, frayed or fatigued Jesus lost in a mental fog. Instead, he found Jesus with great clarity, surprising focus and deep confidence. Jesus replied in Mark 1:38, “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” For Jesus, his next steps were clear and he was ready to lean into his calling — even though this direction may have surprised or even disappointed others.
Pulling away for prayer and perspective wasn’t a one-time event for Jesus. It was a regular rhythm. And it’s a rhythm that can radically and positively change your head and heart space (and mine).
This rhythm and practice of pulling away can take various forms. I’m a runner and pulling away can mean a run that quiets and clears my head. It can be 3-5 minutes of silence as you start your day. It can be part of the blessing from an intentional Sabbath day. I try to step out of our office every afternoon and take 15 minutes to walk around the block. You could pause at lunch to read Scripture. Sometimes I go to a coffee shop. I try to book a half or full day regularly at a local retreat center. These kinds of simple but intentional steps can help radically change your head and heart space.
To help leaders in this important area, we have recently launched a new resource called a Leadership Tune-up. It’s designed to help busy leaders step back, find fresh perspective and experience renewed clarity, focus and confidence. It includes an online assessment, followed by a 90-minute one-to-one personalized coaching session with me. You can learn more here: www.arrowleadership.org/tuneup
Our world and your organization desperately needs leaders with clarity, focus and confidence. When was the last time you pulled away? What could this look like for you?
Integrate is about cultivating more Jesus-centered leaders. Covering three themes, each including an 8-minute video and guided conversation, this resource provides an engaging platform for leadership teams, boards, small groups, Bible studies and peer mentoring groups to have transformational discussions around the Leader of leaders – Jesus.
Included in your purchase: 4 video downloads, PDF resource guide and PowerPoint presentation
A new year is a great chance for a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to try new things and set new rhythms. The little ideas that follow won’t be found on a list of “Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions” but they are simple, practical and could pay big dividends in the year ahead:
1) Walking Meetings
Walking together can increase openness, add more energy and return you to the office feeling fresher with a few calories burned. (Disclaimer: For those of you in northern climates, this idea will sound more appealing in spring).
What’s on your reading list for 2018? Did any books over 100 years old make your list? Anything over 500 years? It’s easy to be consumed by the latest bestsellers and miss the amazing treasure chest of deep enduring wisdom written over the course of history. Add some old books to your reading list for 2018.
3) Pray for Your People
Start a simple daily rhythm of prayer by creating a one-page monthly calendar chart (five columns for the weekdays and four rows for each week in a month). On each weekday list the names of 2-4 direct reports, mentees, peers, co-workers, etc. Then use the chart to focus your prayers day-by-day. Your faithfulness over time will add up!
4) Get Thankful
Developing a habit of gratitude changes your outlook and helps defeat feelings of entitlement. It’s also biblical! Take five minutes daily to identify three things for which you can be thankful. Replay the day and pay attention to small and big blessings. Write them down. Thank God. Review your growing list regularly.
5) Book Your Vacation Now
The research is clear and overwhelming on the multiple positive benefits of taking annual vacations. Too many people don’t take vacations or leave planning to the last minute. Get your vacation dates set and approved six months or more in advance. Vacations don’t need to be luxurious, but they do need to be taken.
6) Recruit a Prayer Team
Is anyone regularly and intentionally praying for you? Start small and ask two or three people to pray for you weekly. Then take 10 minutes to craft a brief e-update on the 10th of each month (the rhythm of 10 minutes on the 10th will help you remember to do it). Include three things:
What’s new/how you are doing;
Praise for what God has done; &
Two to five prayer requests.
Send special e-updates when urgent needs arise and be sure to actively express your appreciation every quarter to your prayer team!
7) Learn Something New
Invest an hour a week learning something new. New learning will refresh you, get your mind working in different ways, connect you to new people and help you more fully engage your everyday responsibilities.
8) Be 10% More Friendly
Arrow Leadership Program trainer Dr. Dave Overholt encourages leaders to be 10% more friendly with the people you meet in everyday interactions. Being 10% more friendly means taking an extra moment with the store clerk, cab driver, or fellow traveler. It means being present to them as Jesus would. It starts with paying attention, asking a question and listening. This simple practice can open up opportunities to naturally encourage, pray and have deeper faith conversations.
9) Get To The Doctor
Christian leaders are often so focused helping others that they neglect self-care. When was the last time you had a check-up for your body, eyes or teeth? Booking an appointment this year is good stewardship and could help avert future problems.
10) Book A Leadership Tune-Up
If you owned a Ferrari, it wouldn’t make any sense to drive it with worn spark plugs. For peak performance you would keep the engine tuned. Leaders need tune-ups too. That’s why we have launched a essay in spanish resource to help Christian leaders to stay sharp, fresh and focused. It’s a 90-minute one-to-one coaching experience that results in a growth plan to guide your development over the next year. You can don t call me ishmael essay
May one of these little ideas pay big dividends for you in 2018!
Have you ever had trouble getting a song out of your head?
It can easily happen after you’ve heard a few notes from your kids’ favorite Disney movie soundtrack. The same goes for the commercial with the catchy jingle or that overplayed song on the radio. Before you know it, you are humming along and then you can’t seem to stop what becomes an endless loop! You can drive yourself crazy!
If you can relate, then you probably understand what it feels like to get a particular thought stuck in your head. For Christian leaders, these thoughts are usually negative, take on a life of their own and most definitely hold leaders back.
I recently asked a group of ministry leaders to list the internal self-talk thoughts and mindsets that can hold leaders back. Here’s just a sampling:
You’re in way over your head.
You’re going to fail.
You’re not as gifted as __________________.
How do I keep ________________ happy?
What will people think?
It all depends on me.
I’m afraid of ______________________.
You’re alone in this, nobody cares and nobody can help.
If only we had _______________ then we’d see God move and experience growth.
Do any of these “songs” or similar ones ever play in your head? If they do and you don’t quickly shut them down, then you and your leadership will pay a hefty price.
Your mind and what you think about matters. Actually, that’s a big understatement! Let me try again: Your mind really really really matters. A key action of the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all your mind (Mark 12:30). You are also called to not be “…conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
Here are two key steps to taking charge of the “songs” in your head and living out God’s desire for your mind:
1) Fix Your Eyes on God
When your thoughts dwell on yourself, others or your circumstances, you can quickly get into trouble. Instead, you and I need to “…throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
In fixing our eyes on Jesus, we are taking our mind off ourselves, others and our circumstances, and training our mind to focus on God. As Thomas Watson beautifully wrote long ago, “The first fruit of love is the musing of the mind upon God. He who is in love, his thoughts are ever upon the object…By this we may test our love to God. What are our thoughts most upon? Can we say we are ravished with delight when we think on God? Oh, how far are they from being lovers of God, who scarcely ever think of God!”
All of us need a bigger, clearer and fuller picture of the truth and magnitude of who God is. A central way to develop this picture is to cultivate relationship with God through Scripture. I’ve found each of these three ingredients critical:
A clear plan for engaging God’s Word;
A set aside place; and
A pre-scheduled time to be in God’s Word each day.
2) Shut Down Unhealthy Soundtracks
You and I have both the choice and ability to shut down unhealthy soundtracks. As Dallas Willard writes in Renovation of the Heart, “The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow our minds to dwell upon.”
This means that when an unhealthy soundtrack starts playing in your head, you need to shut it down. This is living out Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Taking thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ can start by prayerfully (and even verbally) rejecting the unhealthy or sinful thoughts. Call them what they are. Then change the mental channel by fixing your eyes on God and declaring specific truth. Seek to shut down the soundtrack as soon as possible. The longer you let the unhealthy soundtrack play, the harder it is to shut down.
Some closing reflection questions:
What internal self-talk, thoughts and mindsets hold you back?
How can you fix your focus more firmly on God?
What soundtrack do you need to shut down?
Cheering you on,
PS. Do you need a tune-up in your leadership? If you long to sharpen your focus and go to the next level, Arrow’s new Leadership Tune-Up can help. This 90-minute one-to-one skype coaching session with a seasoned Arrow coach will provide you with a customized plan of action and practical tools to guide your growth in 2018. Learn more at: best holiday essay
When I’m asked to recommend resources on developing others, my first response often surprises people. My go-to book has been around a long time! It’s the Bible’s 1 Thessalonians. Written by the Apostle Paul around AD 52, this short letter powerfully illustrates Paul’s heart and practice in developing people. It’s simple, practical and profound.
Here are six keys from 1 Thessalonians that will guide, challenge and encourage you in developing others:
Key #1 – Love People
Paul loved these people. He cared for them. He shared the gospel with them. He shared his life with them. As Paul writes, “Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (2:7-8).
It might seem pretty basic, but sometimes we can miss this one. It’s fairly easy to get so focused on the mission or so task driven that we neglect to deeply love the people God has put right in front of us. Are you expressing love like a mother’s care and significant time with those you are developing?
Key #2 – Pray Regularly
Paul prayed for those he was developing. He recognized that real deep change is grounded in God’s work and fostered by intense prayer. Paul’s clearest words on prayer are, “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers” (1:2). Notice the words “always,” “all of you” and “continually.”
Sometimes we can be so focused on working through a program or moving the plan forward that we neglect to pray for the people around us. Do the words “always” or “all” or “continually” reflect the intensity of your prayers for those you are developing?
Key #3 – Be An Example
Paul challenged the people he was developing to follow his example. He knew that people would evaluate his words by his actions. He also knew that more is often caught than taught. Recognizing that his own life example had a profound impact, Paul writes, “You are witnesses and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed” (2:10).
This is a tough one! What are others picking up through our example? Does your life and actions stir others to growth? Is there anything about your example that you don’t want others to catch?
Key #4 – Provide Perspective
Perspective is a key ingredient to growth. Without perspective we can become trapped in the past, discouraged by the present and overwhelmed by the future. In 2:4-10 Paul addressed the past, present and future for the Thessalonians by reminding them of God’s character, God’s work and God’s promises.
A good developer helps others see God in the midst of their circumstances and challenges. Where, or better yet to whom, do you point people in need of perspective?
Key #5 – Encourage Lavishly
Paul knew that encouragement is a key ingredient for growth. Almost everyone is working from an encouragement deficit. That’s why Paul encouraged lavishly. He writes, “For you know how we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory” (2:11-12).
It’s easy to overestimate how much encouragement we are actually expressing and to also underestimate the amount of encouragement people actually need. Do those you are developing see you as one of their greatest earthly encouragers?
These first five practices provide the foundation for number six…
Key #6 – Teacher
Building on a foundation of love, prayer, example, perspective and encouragement, the rest of Paul’s letter is filled with teaching on practical issues and answering specific questions in the hearts and minds of the Thessalonians. Are you teaching from this kind of foundation?
As you look back over this list, you will notice that you don’t need a Ph.D. to do these things! The encouraging news is that developing others doesn’t need to be complicated. It does, however, need to be intentional.
Which one of these six keys should you more intentionally focus on today?
At once they left their nets and followed him” (Matt. 4:20, NIV).
A curious thing has been happening with me lately. I have begun to pick up my net again.
Let me explain. I am soon turning forty. This represents almost nineteen years since God first invited me to drop my net and follow him into vocational ministry. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I walked away from a corporate career to take a youth pastor role in a church that boasted just three teenagers in their youth group. This response of saying yes to Jesus instantly reduced my salary by 60%.
Dropping my net created the need to navigate dismay of loved ones who had invested in my education to boost my corporate career. My “yes” to Jesus also meant relocating to a tiny two traffic light city in a county – seemingly a land that time had forgotten. Yet, I did it all with a smile. In saying yes to Jesus I was full of hope, expectation, passion to change the world and a resolve to endure whatever would come my way.
So, what happened?
As I sat the other day in a moment of reflection, I became overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. Future, finances, position, influence, impact and family all became words that flooded my thoughts. What I came to realize, after nineteen years of following Jesus, was that I had started to pick back up my net. My net represented:
College funding for my kids
A new van for the family
What about you?
Do you remember dropping your net and following Jesus?
What does your net represent?
Have you been tempted to pick it back up?
As I recognized ways I was picking back up my net and how this was creating fear and anxiety within me, I took three action steps that I encourage you to consider for your own life and leadership:
Embrace God’s faithfulness. Take some time to map out all the ways God has been with you since dropping your net. How has he provided? Protected? Guarded?
Embrace God’s grace. He is not mad at you for wanting to pick up your net. But, you can’t both pick it up and fully follow Jesus. Do you need to surrender your net again? God will give you the grace to do so. He will also embrace you with grace when you empty your hands.
Embrace God’s truth. “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4, NIV). Are there 3-4 Bible verses that have guided you up this point in your mission? Encouraged you? Comforted you? Take some time to reflect on God’s truth.
The battle is real! Satan wants you to pick back up your net and return to trying to do it all yourself. Jesus invites you, yet again today, to drop that net and follow him! Release that net immediately and allow yourself to be led by Him. Trust that He is with you now and forever. You will never regret it!
Teams are critical to accomplish the mission God has called us to: a collection of people with shared passion and vision; a variety of skills, gifts and abilities; energy to propel us forward. There’s nothing better than a team flying in formation.
Yet, good teams don’t just happen. In the midst of purposeful work and rolling schedules, thinking about how to intentionally develop your teams can get pushed aside and eventually lead to breakdown in relationships, communication and effectiveness.
Don’t despair. We have a great resource to share with you; one that can help you lead your team to new heights. “Flying in Formation” provides almost two hours of training with a PowerPoint presentation and handbook for personal and team development – all this is free for you to access and use with your team.
Flying in Formation came about through a strategic partnership between World Vision Canada and Arrow Leadership. You may know about World Vision’s focus to provide relief, development and advocacy to overcome poverty and injustice. But did you know that this organization, as part of their strategic vision, also resources churches and leaders?
Just recently, World Vision Canada asked Arrow Leadership’s president, Dr. Steve Brown, to provide training and practical tools for team leaders in a half-day Church Leaders’ Forum called “Flying in Formation.”
As we direct you to the Flying in Formation training, we celebrate a longstanding partnership between Arrow Leadership and World Vision, and recognize the beauty of organizations partnering together for God’s kingdom work. Our two organizations have been flying in formation for many years. Michael Messenger, president of World Vision Canada explains:
“World Vision has been partnering with Arrow for nearly 10 years, and 45 of our leaders have graduated from both the Executive and Emerging streams. Arrow is a critical part of the development journey for our leaders, and it offers a unique experience that can’t be duplicated. We’ve benefitted greatly from the Arrow Leadership Program’s deep commitment to not only grow the intellectual capacity of our leaders, but also the spiritual connection that they have with themselves and their work. I’m an Arrow leader myself, and I was greatly formed from my experience – both relationally, emotionally and physically.”
Enjoy this resource from World Vision with training by Arrow Leadership president, Dr. Steve Brown.
One year ago, I answered a phone call no parent wants to receive: “your son is unconscious and being taken by ambulance to a trauma hospital.” Jason, almost 20, had left our home a few hours earlier to play in a rugby game.
Our one-hour drive to the hospital was filled with silence and nervous energy as we anticipated the unknown. What would we find? What would our future hold?
When united with Jason, we were relieved to find him awake, though physically restrained as medical professionals monitored and assessed his head injury. We learned he was unresponsive for at least 30 minutes and there was significant concern about his condition.
Jason didn’t remember the game or incident, which is typical in this type of injury. However, we quickly established that something drastic had occurred – he was missing four years of memory.
This life-turning event launched our family into a surreal reality. With no knowledge of his experiences from the past four years – education, relationships, events, emotion – Jason needed to trust his parents and siblings to help him piece his life back together.
Implications about Jason’s injury and details of his recovery are too numerous to outline in this article (imagine going to sleep when you’re 16 and waking up when you’re 20). Let me simply express gratitude to many of you who knew our story and were praying for us; and let you know the Lord sustained and strengthened Jason to face his reality with courage and resilience. He’s doing well and we’re grateful.
As I reflect back on this year, I acknowledge the support and energy required to navigate through trauma and difficulty. My heart aches for those of you who are currently experiencing trouble and I want to remind you that the Lord is with you in the depths of your grief, confusion, disappointment and suffering:
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deut. 31:8).
I could share several stories about how the Lord prepared us for our time of trouble. For example, the night before Jason’s injury I had a dream about him, the date, and the impression that something was going to change. Even when a phone call brought shocking news, I was assured that this was not a surprise to God. He knew what we would be facing and he was with us. God’s presence and guidance.
Another example occurred three days after Jason’s injury when he found a journal from the previous six months. He expressed, “it’s great that you’re telling me about my life, but this is in my own words.” God’s provision.
More than ever, I realize we don’t know, nor do we have control over, what a day will bring. This can cause us to live in fear or risk aversion about what might happen. It can also generate fear and anger when something bad does happen.
My husband and I experienced God’s comfort and release from fear as we chose to trust in the Lord and surrender our situation, and our son, to him. We rallied together as a family with close friends and had many people praying for us. God’s protection.
I am reminded that God is the One who holds all our days in his hands. Whatever you are facing – and as you come alongside others who are suffering – may you be assured of the Lord’s faithful presence, guidance, provision and protection. He’s got this!
On the journey with you,
Dr. Sharon Simmonds
Are you feeling afraid or discouraged? Bring your fear or discouragement to the Lord – be honest with him about what you’re feeling.
How have you experienced God’s presence, guidance, provision and protection during your time of trouble? Make a list (even if you can only think of one thing) and take time today to thank and praise God for his presence with you.
This question came to mind while praying for someone I was mentoring. Whether this question or another, great questions provide possibilities for awareness, growth and transformation. Specifically around the temptation question, I was convicted that this question is worth personal reflection for all Christ-followers and particularly critical for leaders.
Why the Temptation Question?
Scripture teaches that the enemy of God tempts God’s children. Remember his question to Eve in the garden, “Did God really say…?” (see Gen. 3). His tempting approach with Adam and Eve twisted truth, created confusion and communicated false promises.
In another example, Jesus was confronted with testing in the desert when “the tempter” came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God…” (Matt. 4:3). The enemy’s tempting approach was to hit Jesus when he was physically weak, relentlessly threatening his identity from three different angles. Each time Jesus resisted temptation by quoting Scripture. Finally Jesus authoritatively declared, “Away from me, Satan!” And, with that, “the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matt. 4:10-11).
Again, Jesus faced a significant time of testing in the garden of Gethsemane, expressing anguish and modeling prayer. He prayed for himself and told his disciples to “get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Lk. 22:46). As temptation pressed in on Jesus, he pressed in with his Father through prayer. And as Jesus prayed, an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him (see Lk. 22:41-43).
Are You Paying Attention?
Jesus faced testing and temptation. We will too.
Jesus resisted temptation. With God’s help, we can too.
Christ-followers can be assured of the following (see 1 Cor. 10:13):
Temptation is common to all;
God is faithful;
God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear;
When tempted, God provides a way out so you can endure it.
Knowing where you’re most vulnerable to temptation can be helpful. This might be a blind spot or shadow side. It could be an unhealthy obsession, unguarded strength, unmet need or form of escape from reality. It may even be masquerading as something good, but is really reflecting something false. What’s your greatest temptation right now?
God does not promise to keep us from falling if we do not apply care, alertness and caution. But by paying attention with practices of prayer and Scripture, and inviting others to pray with us too, we can celebrate God’s amazing provision and protection as he ministers to us during times of temptation.
Who’s Asking You Great Questions?
Jesus was masterful at asking questions. His questions brought awareness, challenged people’s scripts and drilled down into the deepest places. His questions were often surprising and sometimes perplexing, but for those who were willing to engage, his questions proved to be revolutionary and liberating.
When we abide in an intimate relationship with Jesus and surround ourselves with wise advisors who ask great questions, we are positioning ourselves to experience freedom, transformation and fruitfulness.