It’s Lonely At The Top

How To Endure In Your Position of Influence

If you are a leader—in your home, or at school, in your business, in the community or at the church—live for God’s smile, and you will be a great and enduring leader. At least God will think so, and he is really the only one who ultimately counts.

ronald-reagan

Read: Psalm 109 // Focus: Psalm 109:28

“My accusers may curse me if they like, but you will bless me! When they attack me, they will be disgraced! But I, your servant, will go right on rejoicing!”

Can you imagine what it’s like being the president? At any given time, about half the country admires you and thinks you are doing a decent job while the other half can’t wait for you to just go away. And that’s on a good day! It is often much worse than that for the person in the Oval Office. Think about it—it is not uncommon for a sitting president to have sixty to seventy percent of the citizens treat him as if he were Satan’s spawn.

It is hard to imagine why anyone would want that job. And yet, every four years, a herd of politicians line up for their chance to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That can only means one of two things: They are either crazy or they are called. (Actually, there are several other motives we could talk about—but we’ll save that for another time.)

I’m not sure who said it, but there were right: it’s lonely at the top. Leadership at any level is a tough job. In fact, it is not only tough, it can be a lonely, sometimes thankless, even downright painful job. It certainly was for King David.

David is another man whose leadership we tend to romanticize. But if we were able to catch David in a brutally honest moment, I think he would tell us just how unromantic his job was. If we just go by what he says in the psalms, David lived with persistent criticism for a goodly portion of his reign. It might even seem from reading these psalms, which in a way, was nothing more than David’s spiritual journal, that he was a little paranoid. But that was only because people were out to get him.

I think what made David a great leader was how he endured under the pressure. It wasn’t just his amazing victories, his ever-expanding kingdom, his winsome personality or his musical skill, it was his dogged determination to please God. David took his cues from the Chief Justice of the Universe rather than what would make him a more popular leader at the moment.

As you read the entirety of Psalm 109, you will notice yet again that David bookends (verses 1-2 and 30-31) this detailed account of his detractors vicious accusations with his dependence on God:

O God, whom I praise, don’t stand silent and aloof while the wicked slander me and tell lies about me.

But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising him to everyone. For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.

Above all, David wanted God’s blessing more than anything—high approval ratings, more power, a larger palace. He simply lived for God’s smile, and that’s what made him great, that’s what fueled his endurance under pressure, that’s what enabled him to run strong and finish well.

If you are a leader—in your home, or at school, in your business, in the community or at the church—live for God’s smile, and you, too, will be a great and enduring leader. At least God will think so, and he is really the only one who ultimately counts.

Making Life Work: Give your president a break. Here is a good rule of thumb: Pray for him or her twice as much as you criticize. Do that, and I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that you will quit criticizing the leader of the free world at all.

Evaluations—How Fun!

Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 71
Focus: Psalm 71:7

I have become like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge.

The New Living Translation renders this verse, “My life has become an example to many.” The New King James says, “I have become a wonder.” Portent, example, wonder—whatever the case, people were talking about the writer of this psalm. He was being evaluated—how fun!

We’re not sure if David wrote this song, or if it was one of his musicians. It is generally believed that the composer was in his old age, and, surprisingly, still facing trials—reminding us that much like weird relatives, they never really go away!

As is always the case, with trials come evaluations. For that matter, evaluations come no matter what, be it trials or triumphs. If you are alive, you are going to get evaluated! And if you are in a position of influence of some kind, just multiply that to the “nth degree.” Again, how fun!

The psalmist was going through a challenge, and people were talking. Some thought his trial was proof that he was under God’s curse, while others saw that was God caring for him even in his trial. Now if I were to venture a guess, more people were amazed that God’s loving care had yet again sustained him than those who were putting a negative spin on it. Yet the psalmist was more focused on his naysayers than his encouragers. (Psalm 71:4,10-11,13,24) He was just doing what we human beings shouldn’t do, but do anyway: Giving undue weight to the critic.

But he also did something right—something you and I need to practice when we’re under the bright lights of another’s evaluation: Put our hope in God. (Psalm 71:5,14) Whether the critics are dead on, or dead wrong, or perhaps even both (as they say, even a broken clock gets it right twice a day), leaning on God to see us through (Psalm 71:12), and even cover our goofs with his grace (Psalm 71:20) is the only good way to go through challenging times and blunt the criticism of our evaluator.

Crisis, or not; critics, or not—put your hope in God!

__________________

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”(The Apostle Paul, I Corinthians 4:2-4)

 

Making Life Work: Yes, you will be evaluated in life—how fun! Until the day you die, you will be evaluated—and even after you die. So what! Put your hope in God—after all, that’s the only thing that really matters.

Hertz Donut

Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 26
Focus: Psalm 26:1-3

“Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me,and I walk continually in your truth.”

Have you ever been savagely and unfairly criticized? Sure you have! Hurts, don’t it?

To be human means to be born in criticism season with a big ol’ bull’s eye on your back. And the higher in leadership or influence you climb, the greater your visibility, the more you accomplish, the uglier and more devastating criticism becomes. And even worse, it is usually unjustified, indefensible, and anonymous. It’s just part of the territory.

Apparently David was facing some tough criticism, which was bothering him a great deal. And there wasn’t a whole lot he could do about it, except take it to God—which is always the best thing to do, by the way—and there lift his innocence and integrity before the only Critic who really counts.

You will notice in this psalm that David doesn’t claim perfection—which is a good thing, since he was far from it. If he were that deluded about the true condition of his life, inviting Divine scrutiny (“test me…try me…examine me…” v.2) would have been the worst thing to do in that moment. David was not under the illusion that he was perfect, but he could offer an innocent heart before the Lord; he could point to the integrity of his way and call upon God to vindicate him before his human critics.

To be anything and do anything means to invite criticism; it is just one of the harsh and unpleasant realities of life. So expect folks to criticize you, but like David, so live your life in innocence and integrity that nobody will give your critic much credence—especially God.

And the next time the critic is getting the best of you, remember that you answer to the One who knows your heart, and if you can lift a life of innocence and integrity before him, feel free to call out to him for his vindication.

__________________

“God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.” (C.S. Lewis)

 

Making Life Work: Divine vindication is always the sweetest revenge you can dish out to your critic!

Evaluations—How Fun!

Read Psalm 71

Featured Verse: Psalm 71:7

“I have become like a portent to many,  but you are my strong refuge.”

The New Living Translation renders this verse, “My life has become an example to many.” The New King James says, “I have become a wonder.” Portent, example, wonder—whatever the case, people were talking about the writer of this psalm. He was being evaluated—how fun!

We’re not sure if David wrote this song, or if it was one of his musicians. It is generally believed that the composer was in his old age, and, surprisingly, still facing trials—reminding us that much like weird relatives, trials, troubles and tribulations never really go away!

As is always the case, with trials come evaluations. For that matter, evaluations come no matter what, be it trials or triumphs. If you are alive, you are going to get evaluated! And if you are in a position of influence of some kind, just multiply that to the “nth degree.” Again, how fun!

The psalmist was going through a challenge, and people were talking. Some thought his trial was proof that he was under God’s curse, while others saw that was God caring for him even in his trial. Now if I were to venture a guess, more people were amazed that God’s loving care had yet again sustained him than those who were putting a negative spin on it. Yet the psalmist was more focused on his naysayers than his encouragers. (Psalm 71:4,10-11,13,24) He was just doing what we human beings shouldn’t do, but do anyway: Giving undue weight to the critic.

But he also did something right—something you and I need to practice when we’re under the bright lights of another person’s evaluation: Put our hope in God. (Psalm 71:5,14) Whether the critics are dead on, or dead wrong, or perhaps even both (as they say, even a broken clock gets it right twice a day), leaning on God to see us through (Psalm 71:12), and even cover our goofs with his grace (Psalm 71:20) is the only good way to go through challenging times and blunt the criticism of our evaluator.

Yes, you will be evaluated in life—how fun! Until the day you die, you will be evaluated—and even after you die. So what! Put your hope in God—after all, that’s the only thing that really matters.

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”
—The Apostle Paul (I Corinthians 4:2-4)

Hertz Doughnut

Read Psalm 26

Featured Verse: Psalm 26:1-3

“Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.”

Have you ever been savagely and unfairly criticized? Sure you have! Hurts, don’t it?

Do you remember that old schoolyard prank?  A kid walks up to you and asks, “hey, ya want a Hertz Doughnut?”  Thinking you’re about to get a glazed cruller, you say, “yeah, man, thanks.”  Then he hauls off and slugs you in the arm and says, “Hertz, Dougnut?” Kind of lame, I know, but still, it hurts, don’t it?

That kind of stuff doesn’t stop just because you become an adult. In fact, it’s a little more devious because now you’re not even asked weather you want that “hertz doughnut”.

To be human means to be born in criticism season with a big ol’ bull’s eye on your back. And the higher in leadership you climb, the greater your visibility, the more you accomplish, the uglier and more painful the criticism becomes. And even worse, it is usually unjustified, indefensible, and anonymous. It’s just part of the territory—and it really hurts, don’t it?

Apparently David was experiencing a “Hertz Doughnut” when he wrote this psalm.  He was facing some tough criticism, which was bothering him a great deal. And there wasn’t a whole lot he could do about it, except take it to God—which is always the best thing to do, by the way—and there lift his innocence and integrity before the only Critic who really counts.

You will notice in this psalm that David doesn’t claim perfection—which is a good thing, since he was far from it. If he were that deluded about the true condition of his life, inviting Divine scrutiny (“test me…try me…examine me…” v.2) would have been the worst thing to do in that moment. David was not under the illusion that he was perfect, but he could offer an innocent heart before the Lord; he could point to the integrity of his way and call upon God to vindicate him before his human critics.

To be anything and do anything means to invite criticism; it is just one of the harsh and unpleasant realities of life. So expect folks to criticize you, but like David, so live your life in innocence and integrity that nobody will give your critic much credence—especially God.

And the next time the critic is getting the best of you, remember that you answer to the One who knows your heart, and if you can lift a life of innocence and integrity before him, feel free to call out to him for his vindication.

Divine vindication is always the sweetest revenge you can dish out to your critic!

“God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.”
—C.S. Lewis

Psalm 71: Evaluations—How Fun!

Read Psalm 71:1-24

Evaluations—How Fun!

I have become like a portent to many,
but you are my strong refuge.
(Psalm 71:7)

The New Living Translation renders this verse, “My life has become an example to many.” The New King James says, “I have become a wonder.” Portent, example, wonder—whatever the case, people were talking about the writer of this psalm. He was being evaluated—how fun!

We’re not sure if David wrote this song, or if it was one of his musicians. It is generally believed that the composer was in his old age, and, surprisingly, still facing trials—reminding us that much like weird relatives, they never really go away!

As is always the case, with trials come evaluations. For that matter, evaluations come no matter what, be it trials or triumphs. If you are alive, you are going to get evaluated! And if you are in a position of influence of some kind, just multiply that to the “nth degree.” Again, how fun!

The psalmist was going through a challenge, and people were talking. Some thought his trial was proof that he was under God’s curse, while others saw that was God caring for him even in his trial. Now if I were to venture a guess, more people were amazed that God’s loving care had yet again sustained him than those who were putting a negative spin on it. Yet the psalmist was more focused on his naysayers than his encouragers. (Psalm 71:4,10-11,13,24) He was just doing what we human beings shouldn’t do, but do anyway: Giving undue weight to the critic.

But he also did something right—something you and I need to practice when we’re under the bright lights of another’s evaluation: Put our hope in God. (Psalm 71:5,14) Whether the critics are dead on, or dead wrong, or perhaps even both (as they say, even a broken clock gets it right twice a day), leaning on God to see us through (Psalm 71:12), and even cover our goofs with his grace (Psalm 71:20) is the only good way to go through challenging times and blunt the criticism of our evaluator.

Yes, you will be evaluated in life—how fun! Until the day you die, you will be evaluated—and even after you die. So what! Put your hope in God—after all, that’s the only thing that really matters.

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”
—The Apostle Paul (I Corinthians 4:2-4)

Psalm 26: Hertz Doughnut

Read Psalm 26

Hertz Doughnut

“Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;
for your love is ever before me,
and I walk continually in your truth.”
Psalm 26:1-3

Have you ever been savagely and unfairly criticized? Sure you have! Hurts, don’t it?

To be human means to be born in criticism season with a big ol’ bull’s eye on your back. And the higher in leadership you climb, the greater your visibility, the more you accomplish, the uglier and more devastating criticism becomes. And even worse, it is usually unjustified, indefensible, and anonymous. It’s just part of the territory.

Apparently David was facing some tough criticism, which was bothering him a great deal. And there wasn’t a whole lot he could do about it, except take it to God—which is always the best thing to do, by the way—and there lift his innocence and integrity before the only Critic who really counts.

You will notice in this psalm that David doesn’t claim perfection—which is a good thing, since he was far from it. If he were that deluded about the true condition of his life, inviting Divine scrutiny (“test me…try me…examine me…” v.2) would have been the worst thing to do in that moment. David was not under the illusion that he was perfect, but he could offer an innocent heart before the Lord; he could point to the integrity of his way and call upon God to vindicate him before his human critics.

To be anything and do anything means to invite criticism; it is just one of the harsh and unpleasant realities of life. So expect folks to criticize you, but like David, so live your life in innocence and integrity that nobody will give your critic much credence—especially God.

And the next time the critic is getting the best of you, remember that you answer to the One who knows your heart, and if you can lift a life of innocence and integrity before him, feel free to call out to him for his vindication.

Divine vindication is always the sweetest revenge you can dish out to your critic!

“God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.”
—C.S. Lewis