Leaders become so because of a passionate pursuit of a God- given vision and assignment. It is our God- given appointment. God designs it, ordains it and entrusts us to carrying it out. As leaders we are to stand in the front lines and lead the troops. There are times when this is easy and times our faith in ourselves, others and in God may be in question! Is it any wonder that the enemy sets traps to try and throw us off our path to success? A strong and unmovable leader leads the path to success.
Long ago, there lived an officer of the Royal Navy named Captain Bravado. He was a manly man's man, who showed no fear when facing his enemies. One day, while sailing the Seven Seas, his lookout spotted a pirate ship approaching, and the crew became frantic. Captain Bravado bellowed, "Bring me my red shirt!"
The first mate quickly retrieved the captain's red shirt, and while wearing the brightly colored frock, the Captain led his crew into battle and defeated the pirates. That evening, all the men sat around on the deck recounting the day's triumph. One of them asked the Captain, "Sir, why did you call for your red shirt before battle?"
The captain replied, "If I were to be wounded in the attack, the shirt would not show my blood. Thus, you men would continue to fight, unafraid." All of the men sat and marveled at the courage of such a manly man's man.
As dawn came the next morning, the lookout spotted not one, not two, but TEN pirate ships approaching. The crew stared in worshipful silence at the captain and waited for his usual orders. Captain Bravado filled with disappointment gazed with steely eyes upon the vast armada arrayed against his ship, and without fear and turned and calmly shouted, "Get me my brown pants!"
Disappointment happens! It may come in to form of a personal weakness or in the failure of those who are called to follow. The enemy will always try and steal our success if he can catch us unaware and unprepared.
One of the greatest traps that can lead to defeat is getting slammed head-on by disappointment. It can happen unexpectedly or slowly over a period of time but every leader will one-day face glaring disappointment of some nature! The word disappointment needs to be understood. Appointment is our assignment; a place we have been personally called to. ‘DIS’ means to cut off or separate from. Disappointment is then a place we either choose to become separated from our purpose and wander in sadness or gain a new stronger foothold for the race ahead!
Elijah was a perfect example of being blindsided by disappointment. Elijah’s heart was on fire for God. He was an aggressive leader who witnessed God’s miracles and super natural favor. He was popular among the people revered as a great prophet. On the heels of one of his greatest victories as he literally ran the 23 miles home, the air was squeezed out of his Reeboks as he learned Jezebel threatened to have his head hanging on the city gates by morning! He made a determined detour finding himself alone and depleted slumped under a broom tree.
I love the fact scripture tells us how God ministered to Elijah. In powerful displays of nature God moved all around the prophet. Yet as the stillness followed and the quiet enveloped Elijah, God showed His powerful ability to intimately refresh his servant. Once Elijah was reminded and renewed in relationship, God asked a direct and potent question, Elijah how did you get here? God was asking Elijah to determine how he had gotten to this place of utter disappointment in himself, others and in God?
He was human and would feel the emotions connected with rejection.
He may have looked more towards his own abilities than God’s plan.
He may have had false expectations of success.
He thought his victories would automatically insure his popularity.
All people should have seen him as a great man of God.
He may have forgotten life isn’t fair and people aren’t always just.
Where was God after all?
God should have protected him after all he was busy doing God’s work.
Why would God not remove these evil people who came against him?
Disappointments happen in the life of every leader. That moment we face personal failure or face the wrath of those we feel should revere us. Even those times we feel God has moved away and allowed us to fall into unfair circumstance.
At this pivotal point we find ourselves under our own personal broom tree – a place we have run to hide from the sting of disappointment. Like Elijah we can choose to sit alone and rejected or rediscover our God given reasons for leadership!
Although we sometimes create our own personal disappointments God is not shocked. He knows us intimately. He understands our weaknesses. He knows our thoughts, frustrations and tendencies. He is not caught by surprise when people come against us or betray us. He doesn’t give up on them when they can’t always see the greater goal. He is not hindered by rejection. He stands ready to turn disappointments into miracles.
The broom tree experience helps us all as leaders to re examine our motives and reintroduce ourselves to the intimate love of the Father – the bottom line reason we are trying to fulfill the vision given us.
It was under the broom tree Elijah gained a new and more powerful ministry than he had ever known. As he renewed his faith he left the broom tree behind. From this experience he went on to do more than he could have ever imagined in fulfilling the appointment God had planned for him.
For those of us called to be leaders we know all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) If we walk according to His purpose no one or no situation will win over us (Romans 8:31).
We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. We can be persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These verses remind us there are only two things we need in order to succeed. One, we must be convinced God is the source of our appointment and keep our faith and trust in Him. In this we move bravely from the ranks of the follower to the position of a true leader.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)