“For a young person, ‘crucible’ is only a word from the dictionary. But as you mature, it becomes a testimony in your life’s journey.”
These were some of the wise words we received from Pastor Frank Damazio when he spoke to our pastors this past week.
He said that some of the greatest leaders you’ll ever read in the Bible went through the greatest trials in life. Brokenness brings about the greatness in a leader.
He then introduces the concept of the crucible and it’s place in Christian leadership. He says that many times in the Bible, you’d see that before a person is used by God greatly, he had to go through trials severely. Joseph had to spend some time in prison after being falsely accused. Daniel was in the lion’s den. Moses was in the desert of Midian for 40 years. Jonah was in the belly of a fish for 3 days. Over and over, we see people that were used by God in amazing ways. But before He did, they had to go through the crucible.
A crucible is a metal container where things like gold and silver are melted in. It is in the crucible that they are reshaped. Going through the fire will reshape you indeed. The question is, will you allow God to do it? Because sometimes, in our struggle to rescue ourselves from the crucible, we end up missing on what God’s trying to accomplish.
When we rescue ourselves from the crucible experience, we miss out on some of the best lessons God is trying to teach us.
Pastor Frank tells the experience he had when he was in Cape Town South Africa. When he visited, he learned more about the life of Nelson Mandela while in prison. One thing that he said that I will never forget was this – “The man that went in the prison was different from the man that came out.”
As Nelson Mandela embraced his crucible experience, he came out of it reshaped. Hatred was taken out and unforgiveness dissipated. He was a different Mandela.
Crucibles are what gives meaning to your life’s journey. It’s what defines you as a leader. It galvanizes in you what can never be taken away. It’s what you would call a defining moment. And the darker the trial, the greater the grace that’s provided.
Will you embrace your crucible experience for your good and ultimately for the glory of God?
I recently had lunch with one of the businessmen in church.
He was telling me the story of how “SOP’s” (standard operating procedures) have become an SOP in business negotiations. An “SOP” is a term people use these days in place of the word bribe.
In a recent meeting where he had to present his services, the man in charge assured him that he can get the deal as long as he gives in to this process. This was communicated to him after a series of meetings and several presentations already done.
On this particular meeting when the “bomb” was dropped, my friend, with a straight face responds by thanking him for the opportunity to present.
“Thank you for listening to us and allowing us to present our services to you. We realize that by not giving in to this process of “SOP”, we probably won’t end up with the project. Rest assured, we appreciate your time.”
My friend already conceded to the fact that it would be given to another company who would be willing give “under the table.”
It was inspiring to hear his conviction, stand up for what he believes is right and follow through with the decision.
He knew what he stood for and wasn’t about to sell his character for a couple of million pesos.
Proverbs 28:6 says, “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”
He didn’t just believe this. He lived it.
How did this story end?
He actually got the deal anyway.
God blessed him and gave the deal to him without needing to give the “SOP.”
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory… (Ephesians 3:20-21)
While having breakfast with my kids this morning before going to school, we read a verse that talks about humility and character. Then the topic of trust in the area of leadership came up. We talked about why some of our nation’s leaders are losing the trust of the Filipino people.
I told Nathan and Janina that there are 2 things that build the trust of the people we lead. When one of them is lost, trust is potentially lost as well.
I was talking about CHARACTER and COMPETENCE.
1. Character. Some people are very competent. They are skilled, talented and have abilities beyond measure. They even have the charisma to lead thousands if not millions. However, if character is not present, I told my kids, people will always be suspicious in the back of their heads if things are being done out of selfish gain or for personal achievement. That is why character is critical in leadership.
2. Competence. There are those who have great character. They are very sincere. They have great hearts. However, even if the person has a great heart and yet drops the ball often enough and doesn’t deliver, trust is potentially lost as well.
Psalm 78:72 tells us that King David “shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.”
Integrity of heart (character)… Skillful hands (competence)…
And what envelopes all these is the grace of God … for without Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)
As a leader, trust is the primary currency you and I have.
People can follow because of titles. They can follow because of incentives. Others will follow because they might get fired. Some will follow because of your position. But people love to follow people they trust.
Daniel was trustworthy. People falsely accused him and did their best to discredit him yet they couldn’t.
Daniel 6:4 says that “he was trustworthy… neither corrupt nor negligent.”
2 Things that break trust:
1. Saying one thing and doing another.
Corruption in not just about taking someone’s wealth. The dictionary defines it as someone who is dishonest, unprincipled and crooked.
When we say one thing, do we do something different hoping people won’t notice? When we do that, we break trust. The truth is, it’s in the little things that people see that actually erode trust.
2. Saying one thing and not doing it.
Daniel did what he always did.
In fact, King Darius’ question showed Daniel’s consistency.
“Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, WHOM YOU SERVE CONTINUALLY, been able to rescue from the lions?”
When we say one thing and not follow through, that too breaks trust.
Daniel was trustworthy because he was neither corrupt nor negligent.
As a result, the Bible says that he “prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”