Responsibility And Accountability

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God had a rather simple message for Ezekiel, “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, speak to your people’” (Ezekiel 33:1–2). 

I find that pronoun “your“ intriguing because you would think that God would say, “My people.” They are indeed God’s people, but God had set Ezekiel apart as His watchman (vv. 7–20), so Ezekiel had to take personal responsibility for the people. They were to be treated and spoken to as though they were indeed his people. 

This idea of responsibility gets a little tricky for some leaders because, with the responsibility to their people, they usually feel they are accountable to their people as well. 

But in the next few verses, God makes it clear that Ezekiel must be accountable to God alone.

Responsible to his people. Accountable to his God. 

When we start feeling we are accountable to people, we can get distracted, discouraged, or derailed by their unpleasant responses. 

Notice that when Jesus spoke pleasing words to people, everyone spoke well of Him. But when He pointed out to them the words of God they were ignoring, they were ready to kill Him. 

People are fickle—they sing praises when they hear those words they like, and they are ready to attack the messenger when the words are upsetting. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who has a clear understanding of his responsibility and his accountability.

When you are God’s leader, He will entrust people to your care and He will entrust His message for those people to you. You are now responsible to deliver His message to your people. You are then accountable to God alone for delivering His message. Be responsible to people, accountable to God, and be careful not to mix the two. 

This is part 66 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

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Podcast: Live An Honor-Filled Life

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • [0:45] Honor should be an everyday practice
  • [2:05] Greg’s pet peeve for leaders
  • [2:45] Advice from my grandpa
  • [3:20] Leaders look for ways to honor those around them
  • [3:48] Can you honor too much?
  • [4:29] How can we honor our parents and grandparents?
  • [5:13] Greg has a book releasing soon called Sage Advice 
  • [9:44] Greg explains that application is the real compliment
  • [10:36] Honor starts with noticing others and then expressing what was noticed
  • [11:49] Honoring calls out great potential in others
  • [12:32] What does it mean to “trust the person with a limp”?
  • [14:15] Honor is for people who gave, not for people who received
  • [15:28] Why is hard for leaders to acknowledge the success of others?
  • [16:27] Leaders need to looking around for opportunities to honor others
  • [17:11] Hand out compliments publicly for maximum effect
  • [17:55] Leaders receive honor by first honoring others
  • [19:45] Our leadership challenge to you 

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

Intersecting Lives

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time teaching some emerging ministry interns. I shared with them part of my autobiography. There was a time when I heard God’s voice as clearly as I had ever heard it telling me to pursue a career in the medical field. Before I completed that degree, I just as clearly heard God’s voice telling me that medicine wasn’t going to be the career for me.

For a number of years, I struggled with this because I thought I had missed God’s voice the first time. “Perhaps,” I thought to myself, “I didn’t hear God clearly.” 

But then the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to a story in the Book of Acts that I had completely missed before. The principles in this story helped me realize that God had put me on a particular path in order for my life to intersect with other people and places. 

Here’s how I explained my story and the principles I learned from the life of Philip:

My friend, your journey may be different from mine, but we still share something so vital in common: God is using everything in your life to accomplish His plan. As you follow Jesus, you will intersect with the lives of others, and your life is making a difference in them.

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God Bless America?

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On this 4th of July weekend, is it right for us to pray for God’s blessing on America? I have blogged before about being careful with our terms that are biblical, unbiblical, or non-biblical. Clearly, the phrase “God bless America” is non-biblical—that is, this phrase doesn’t explicitly appear in the Scripture. But are there principles in the Bible that can make that phrase biblical? 

Yes, I believe so IF we recognize why we have been blessed by God. 

In God’s perfect timing, the next psalm in our series looking at the Selahs in the Psalms is one that addresses this topic. 

Notice the very first word in Psalm 87 is the personal pronoun “He.” There is an assumption the sons of Korah make that their readers will know that “He” is The Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. In fact, they see God as the Prime Mover in this psalm, putting His words at the very middle of the psalm (v. 4). 

Just before these quotation marks, we are invited to Selah—pause and carefully listen to God. He announces heavenly citizenship for age-old enemies of Israel: Rehab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, Cush. Peoples from all of these nations are identified as: “those who acknowledge Me” and three times He says they are “born in Zion” (vv. 4-6). 

God desires that none should perish. He wants people from every nation, tribe, and language to enjoy His presence forever in the eternal Zion. 

The sons of Korah remind us of just how blessed Zion truly is (vv. 1-3) and how God establishes all who have Zion citizenship (v. 5). God does this so that all people will see God’s blessing on those people who acknowledge Him as their Lord and King. 

So let’s return to my earlier question: Is it right and biblical for Christians to pray for God to bless America? 

Let me ask it another way: Has God blessed America? I believe He has and we should be eternally grateful. I believe this nation was founded on biblical principles, and recognized as a place where people could have the freedom to worship God.

Will God continue to bless America? Psalm 87 says the blessing will last only as long as we Americans acknowledge, “All my fountains are in You” (v. 7). This is a call for us to continually recognize God as our Foundation and Source. We also have to remember that the blessing is only to us so that it can flow through us to all peoples, languages, and tribes. 

The blessing stops when we dig our own wells, or we try to hoard the blessing. 

There are two phrases in this psalm that stand out to me as prophetic. 

  1. Selah (listen to this) and then “I will record” (vv. 3-4) 
  2. The Lord will write in the register” (stop to celebrate) Selah (v. 6)

God keeps perfect records of those who are citizens of Zion because they have acknowledged Jesus as the One who paid the price for their sins to be forgiven. So when John gives us a glimpse of the eternal Zion, he tells us about the rejoicing over those who are there “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9-10, 7:9-10, 21:22-27). 

Just as Revelation records spontaneous praise to God, the sons of Korah build in those Selah pauses to worship too:

  • Glorious things are said of God—praise Him! 
  • He has blessed us by His presence in our midst—praise Him! 
  • People from all tribes are entering Zion—praise Him! 

May God continue to bless America so that we can use those blessings to tell the world about His love as we invite them into a personal relationship with Jesus! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can find the full list by clicking here.

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Poetry Saturday—All People That On Earth Do Dwell

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All people that on earth do dwell,
sing to the Lord with cheerful voice;
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell,
come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord ye know is God indeed;
without our aid He did us make;
we are His folk, He doth us feed,
and for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise,
approach with joy His courts unto;
praise, laud, and bless His name always,
for it is seemly so to do.

For why? The Lord our God is good,
His mercy is forever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
and shall from age to age endure. —William Kethe

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Go Deep—Prophecy And Serving

According to Romans 12, all Christians have been given a unique gift package by God. We are to use these motivational gifts to make God’s Kingdom more visible and more desirable. 

This week we discuss the gifts of prophecy and serving. You may download the participant’s notes and the gifts assessment I use in this lesson:

If you missed any of the lessons in this class, you can find them all here.

If you would like to join us in person for this class, here is where you can find us.

Links & Quotes

“…when it comes to following Jesus, life is never as good as it gets. There is always more righteousness, more peace, and more joy in the Spirit to know, and more love and truth to share, as long as we are willing to press on.” Read more of this post from T.M. Moore here.

Commenting on Haggai 1, Dr. Henry Halley reminds us, “One of the most insistent Old Testament teachings is that national adversity is due to national disobedience to God.” In a series of messages I shared from the minor prophets, I noted the precision of the fulfillment of God’s prophecies, especially in the book of Haggai. So when God promises punishment for disobedience, we should take notice. Revival will come when we repent from those sins.

J. Warner Wallace understands why the church is often confused about the role of apologetics in evangelism. In this video he does a marvelous job of explaining the value of apologetics—

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Accepting It For What It Is

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Accepting It For What It Is

…For the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:20).

     In the Word of God the teaching has unique dignity. This Book is inspired as no other book is inspired, and it is time that all Christians avowed this conviction. …  

     Where are we if our Bibles are gone? Where are we if we are taught to distrust them? If we are left in doubt as to which part is inspired and what is not, we are as badly off as if we had no Bible at all. I hold no theory of inspiration. I accept the inspiration of the Scriptures as a fact.

From The Infallibility Of Scripture

I, too, accept the inspiration of the Scriptures as a fact. Every single word is perfectly inspired by the Holy Spirit. Even the order in which the words are spoken.

During the summer months, I like to lead my congregation through a study of the Book of Psalms. Currently, we are looking at the psalms that contain the word Selah. 

It is distressing to me to see how many “modern” translations of the Bible either relegate the word Selah to a footnote (like the NIV which says, “The Hebrew has Selah [a word of uncertain meaning] here”), or completely disregard this word (e.g. The Message, The Contemporary English Version, and The Living Bible, to name a few). 

Why? Do we think we are so much smarter now that we know which words the Holy Spirit truly inspired, and which ones we can leave out?

Once we start down this path, what is to stop us from modifying any word in the Bible? Many liberal-minded people want to tell us “what God really meant” in some passages, or to water down the inspiration so much to try to make it “culturally relevant” that they end up destroying its very meaning. This is not only a slippery slope, but it is something that God has already warned us against doing: 

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. (Revelation 22:18-19)

Let us accept the Word of God for what it is: Words that the mouth of Almighty God has spoken, not words that we think can be modified, improved, or eliminated. 

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Responding To National Adversity

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Although the Jews had been released from exile in Babylon to return to their homeland, things still were not going well for them. The prophet Haggai came on the scene and offered this solution from God to their national adversity.

Check out the text of Haggai 1 here.

You may also be interested in the posts I have previously shared about Haggai’s ministry, which overlapped with the prophetic ministry of Zechariah.

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Trading Rights For Responsibilities

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

“When you become a leader, you lose the right to think about yourself.” —Gerald Brooks 

Sadly, I encounter far too many “leaders” (at least they are leaders in title only) who think being a leader means they have more rights. It might be the right to a better parking place, or to be first in line, or to ignore some of the rules that others have to follow. 

That certainly wasn’t the attitude of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9, a chapter which the NIV gives the heading ‘Paul Gives Up His Rights’:

Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:11-12 NLT) 

Paul said the natural thing was for those in leadership to feel entitled to certain rights, but the spiritual thing is to turn those rights into responsibilities toward the people around us. 

Spiritual leadership is not about gaining more rights, it’s about fulfilling God-given responsibilities. In fact, the higher you progress in a leadership role, the fewer rights you have. Godly servant leaders gladly trade rights for responsibilities. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who has stopped demanding his “rights.”

To trade our rights for responsibilities is a sacrifice. But I don’t mean a sacrifice that comes with a “Woe is me!” feeling. God will only ask us to sacrifice what is holding us back. God wants to use His leaders to minister to His people. He will not give us a larger position if we are only going to use that for our own benefit.

Consider the rights Jesus had because He was fully God. Yet He made the ultimate rights-for-responsibilities sacrifice by going to the Cross in our place. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). 

Leaders, I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be clinging to your rights, and how you can exchange those rights for responsibilities to the people God has placed under your care.

This is part 65 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

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