Follwership/Leadership

Follow Lead Buttons Show Leading The Way Or FollowingYesterday was a special day for me and my journey with the Lord.  I started serving as a young pastor in 1982 at a small church in Crab Orchard, Tennessee while a student at Johnson University. I served there a little over a year before accepting a position as youth minister in Maryville Tennessee. I spent the next 20 years as a staff member in ministry the bulk of my time in Carroll County, GA. I have been privileged to serve at Southern Hills for the past 10 years in different capacities. Yesterday I was ordained to serve as an Elder at Southern Hills. I believe church leadership to be a calling from the Lord. I feel like I’m serving the Lord in this capacity, because it’s HIS church. Just this morning (timing) I read a passage in 1 Timothy that speaks to this position. Check this out…

1This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy. He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) (1 Timothy 3:1-5 CSB)

When the Lord is leading me, I feel confident and competent to lead others. I have multiple degrees and diplomas from “University of Hard Knocks”. I have lots of experience with failure and bad decisions. I’ve learned things that simply don’t work. Some of what I’ve learned is from observing others. Leading in any area of life or work is also about following. There is much to be learned from the people who came before us and the person or persons we are ultimately answering too. I am standing on the shoulders of some amazing men and women of faith who poured into me as a youngster, even as a grown man. I’m humbled and thankful as I reflect on my journey with the Lord at this point. I will continue to be a follower of the Lord who leads. I think the sequence is important.  I want to live my life with a heart abandoned to the King of my heart. I want to seek Him above wealth, fame or any other “success measurement tool” we can use.  To God be honor and glory in me and through me for all my days.

Heart Abandoned by Kristian Stanfill

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Rebellion & Arrogance

Man with arrogant expressionThese two words often accompany one another. These are two words that I don’t want to ever be compared to in the Presence of God. In following the Lord it is not a diplomatic pursuit. The Lord wants to be number 1 in every area of my life. He doesn’t want to be second. I’ve heard it said, “The Lord must be Lord OF all or He’s not Lord AT all.”

King Saul was given some very specific instructions from the Lord about total destruction of the Amalekite nation. The Lord wanted them and everything connected with them wiped off the face of the earth. King Saul decided to do things his own way and he saved the best cattle and sheep as well as King Agag. Samuel confronts Saul and tells him that the Lord has rejected him as king because of his willful disobedience. Check this out…

22 But Samuel replied:

‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices

    as much as in obeying the Lord?

To obey is better than sacrifice,

    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,

    and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,

    he has rejected you as king.’ (1 Samuel 15:22-23 NIV)

These words of Samuel have echoed in my head for years. I sometimes want to negotiate with the Lord when He’s called me to do something or become something. I’m reminded that He is Lord of All and my role in this relationship is one of submission and obedience.

In this passage Samuel compares disobedience to divination and idolatry. These are two significant areas that will lead me away from the heart of God consistently. I needed to be reminded that while I don’t worship little carvings made of wood or precious metal, I can be found worshipping my family, my job, my popularity and my own self to name just a few. The Lord doesn’t want my money, my volunteering or my talent without first having my heart of obedience.

My obedience to the Lord is paramount over everything else and everyone one else. For a follower of God, it is not and option or choice – it is a command. As I walk through the Word of God, I can hear the prompting of God to speak and to act. As I listen to His heart, He speaks into my heart. My pursuit of God’s heart is absolutely dependent upon my obedience.  If my heart is His, I can display confidence in Him but not in me.

If the Lord has my heart, He has my trust.

If the Lord has my heart, He has my obedience.

If the Lord has my heart, He has my money.

If the Lord has my heart, He has my family.

If the Lord has my heart, He has my job.

If the Lord has my heart, He has all of me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Brought Down A Notch

work hard stay humbleI used to hear this phrase as a kid growing up and it was my Mom’s way of explaining that I was about to be humbled. She also used to say: “I was a bit too big for my britches”. This was another way of saying that she was the parent and that I was under her authority and she was about to exercise her authority and discipline me. I learned at an early age that when Mom or Dad told me to do something, they meant it. I also learned that they were followers of The Lord and they had put themselves under His authority.

Daniel is a foreigner (Jew) who was taken captive from Jerusalem and now was serving under King Nebuchadnezzar as a close advisor. The King had another dream that the other magicians and advisors couldn’t interpret, but Daniel could. The Lord was telling the King that he was about to be humbled. The Lord wanted him to acknowledge the sovereignty of heaven. Check this out…

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes towards heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives for ever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;

    his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

35 

All the peoples of the earth

    are regarded as nothing.

He does as he pleases

    with the powers of heaven

    and the peoples of the earth.

No one can hold back his hand

    or say to him: ‘What have you done?’

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisors and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (Daniel 4:34-37 NIV)

 

No matter what success may come my way, I should always give credit where credit is due – the Lord is the Leader of my life. He is my closest advisor. He is fully capable of taking me or anyone else “down a notch” when or if He pleases. I should never get to proud of my accomplishments because I am nothing without Him. He speaks into me. He speaks through me. He is worthy of my highest praise and worship because of Who He is and What He has done and is doing in my life!

I was reminded of this passage in James. Check this out…

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:10 NIV)

 

Pressing On!

Dwayne

 

Called

Man praying with the BibleI’ve been called on the phone. I’ve been called for dinner. I’ve been called names. I have also felt called by God. I can’t explain, “called by God” very well. I remember well the moment in my life that I believe in God based on my journey and not that of my parents. I was serving dinner as underclassman at a banquet given for the Senior class in college. I was watching the Passion Play about the last week of Jesus life. As I watched the crucifixion live that night, I felt the Presence of God come over me. I was broken because of my sin. I was so blown away by the incredible love and grace of God. I had believed in God up to that point, but that was the point that I believed on my own. I “owned my faith” from that point on.

It’s weird that I wanted to be a “preacher” since I was in 3rd grade. I preached my first “sermon” at age 14. I had it all figured out. As I went to college to become a preacher, the Lord got hold of my heart and I told Him that I would do whatever He called me to do. My senior year I was a part-time pastor at a small church in Tennessee and I started meeting with the youth on Sunday night before church. I really like hanging with them and seeing them learn and grow quickly. I didn’t know it at the time, but the Lord was preparing me for a call to be a student pastor. I really feel like that my first year in ministry I was really as “student pastor” to about 5 kids at Crab Orchard Christian Church while preaching for the adults.

The prophet Jeremiah was called by God and it sort of freaks him out. Check this out….

4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’
6 ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’
7 But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:4-8 NIV)

 

Dwayne HicksFeeling called by God to do anything is important. I really want to know that I have the Lord’s favor in everything I do. After spending 20 years in student ministry, I started a career in real estate. I had gone through divorce several years prior and had shared physical custody of my children and full legal custody. If I left Carroll County, GA I would have to go back and renegotiate custodial situation. I did not feel called to leave my children. I felt called to be a Dad before anything else – including being a student pastor. I remember the discussion with my children when I resigned my position at the church I was serving. I told them that my job would change, but my faith in the Lord was as strong as ever. I would still “walk out” my faith daily. (The picture here is from my first photo shoot to market myself as a REALTOR. I used the tag line “Call me and start packing!” I get a chuckle out of this now – I was so very young – lol!)

I’m not really sure when I first started writing down my journal of how the Lord was speaking in my daily reading of His Word. I love my time in the quiet of the morning with Him speaking into my life through a simple verse or verses. I want to be a good listener as He speaks. I write this journal of my journey for my relationship with the Lord. I felt called at some point to share what I write via my blog. If the Lord tells me to stop I will stop. If He tells me to go a different route, then that’s what I’ll do. I don’t ever want to stop hearing the Lord call me or speak into my life. If this call that the Lord has placed on me helps others know Him and see Him – I’m so humbled by that. He still leads me and speaks into my heart.

Today I’m a Real Estate Broker of the largest independent brokerage in West Georgia and I couldn’t be more thankful for the team of REALTORS that I serve the public with. I believe that the Lord used my first 20 years in student ministry to prepare me to be a business leader. It’s sometimes difficult to hold your tongue in the midst of a tough or difficult situation. It’s pretty much always easy to know what the right thing to do is. It’s not always popular, but I really try to seek wisdom from the Lord to lead in every situation. I feel called to be right where I am and I’m so thankful that the Lord keeps that clear for me. If He decides to call me to do something different, I plan to follow Him wherever He leads.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

BE – Love – Serve – REPEAT!

be love serve repeatI read this slogan several years ago. It was the theme of a youth conference and it has stuck in my head as a good slogan for my life as a Christ-follower. I want to BE a child of God. I want BE-lieve in Him. I want to BE loved by Him. I want to honor Him BE-cause I LOVE Him. I want to SERVE others out of my LOVE for Him. It is a good cycle to be in and stay faithful to.  This morning in my journey through 1 Peter 4, I felt like this is exactly what “ole Pete” was saying. Check this out….

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7-11 NIV)

 

Be Alert; pay attention so that I can pray.

Love others deeply – if necessary then I can use words. My activities should show my love, honor and respect for others.

I should Serve others however they need me to serve.  There are so many ways that I can serve others. In fact the profession I’m in as a REALTOR, is a service profession. I can use my knowledge, skill and honor to serve my clients with the highest professional care and watch each detail closely. I can give them sound council and good advice based on good information.  I ultimately serve and honor God. I serve Him by serving others. I love Him because He loved me first. I love others because I love Him.

I want to BE His Child. I want LOVE like He loves. I want to SERVE like He serves and then I want to do it all over again tomorrow.

I want my life to be lived for His honor and His glory!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Visual Faith

Hope Words in Sky Faith Belief Inspire AspirationsI think about my faith pretty much every day. There are some days my faith is shaky and other days it is unshakeable. After I turned 50 years of age a couple of years back I see today differently. I realize just how important today really is. I’m not promised tomorrow or next week or even a whole day today. I must learn to drink in the moments as they come and do my very best to honor God with each moment!   Paul had a similar attitude that he passed on to the church at Corinth. Check this out…

 1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:1-10 NIV)

I love the fact that God has deposited His Holy Spirit inside me. His Spirit changes my attitude and my outlook toward everyone and everything!  My visual faith operates through the lens of Christ in me! I choose a good attitude today because of Christ in me. I choose to love others today because of Christ in me. I choose to live in the moment today and not get too crazy thinking about what will come tomorrow, next week, or next year. I just want to walk with Him through the rest of my days of life here on earth and honor Him with my attitude and my activities. I want to be strong in Him in the face of temptation and struggle. I want to hold on to him so that my faith vision gets better and better each day.

Pressing On!
Dwayne