Restoring Broken Heros – Part 1 – When You Disappoint

This article was birthed out of my own personal trials.  And it proved to be one of the most essential life-lessons I have ever learned:  that of my own fragile sense of “success” and God’s endless patience and unequaled determination.

I have walked with God since 1974 and have served Him in pastoral ministry since 1982.  I have preached on the average several times a week since I was just 15 years old.  That’s a lot of preaching!

But there were dark areas of my soul, places of thoughts, and emotions that seemed resistant to God’s sanctifying graces.  Oh, I poured my soul out to God on a daily basis.  But the strong hold continued.  And I had resigned myself that I would battle these demons in my personal darkness the rest of my life.

beaten-hero-28524264Then someone I love dearly happened upon evidence of the demons of my darkness.  And the look of brokeness in her eyes sent me into a spiral of despair that I had never known.  I will never forget the day when she looked at me with tears streaming down her cheeks and said, “Daddy, you were my hero.”

In that moment my world crumbled to ruins.  My justifications of bad behavior, my professions of weakness, my admissions of wrong-doings and my resolutions to do better seemed to vanish as a vapor into worthless ramblings, unable to restore trustworthiness to my destroyed image.

I threw myself before God and cried out to Him.  I confessed my sin to a couple of very trusted colleagues who prayed with me and for me.  And I have since established an accountability system to make sure that I never return to the way of sin again.

What my personal sin was, and all of the struggles throughout the years, is not important to our lesson.  We are all born with the desire to be a hero, to be a leader, and to influence others.  And sooner or later we will disappoint those who we want to influence for good.

When we disappoint people we experience a myriad of emotions: shame, anger, resentment and despair.  In the eyes of the disappointed we become a broken, imperfect or fallen hero.

We want desperately to go back in time and do things differently.  But time-travel is not given to mankind.  We can’t change what we have done.  We can only decide what we will do next.  And what we do in these moments will define our lives for years to come.

Have you disappointed anyone?  YES, if you have lived for any length of time, you have disappointed someone.  You have fallen off the pedestal they put you on.  They resent you for disappointing them.  And you probably resent yourself.  So what can you do?

man-looking-mirror-6221961. The very first thing you must do is: EMBRACE THE MIRROR.  When I work out I used to look at the picture of a professional body builder.  After straining through 3 push ups I imagined that I was that guy.  But when I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw who I really am my ego would take a severe beating.

Friend, you and I are both guilty of ignoring the blemishes that are clearly there on our character.  When we disappoint someone who is dear to us, quite often it is just life throwing up a mirror in front of our eyes.  And we don’t like what we see.  But the first step in transforming yourself is accepting what you see.

faith-288447312. STAY IN FAITH, and don’t beat yourself up.  And certainly don’t let anyone else beat you up over it.  People get mean when they are hurt and disappointed.  So if you have hurt someone expect them to hurt you back.  It’s normal, though it is never helpful.

In the midst of my personal trial I seriously thought about how life just wasn’t worth living if it meant running the risk of disappointing someone again.  Listen, quitting only makes things worse.  Breaking off a relationship, quitting a job, or evening ending your life will only compound the disappointment.  And it is a cowardly thing to do.

You can still be a hero.  But it means you are going to have to make some serious changes in your life.  It means you’re going to have to stop playing games and get serious with God, serious with life, and serious with yourself.

us-army-soldier-carrying-wounded-friend-296598943. GET HONEST with yourself and with someone you trust.  And stop making your sin someone else’s fault.  The only way you are going to truly change is to accept full responsibility for who you are and what you have done.

If you have been blame shifting and playing the victim all your life than getting honest about yourself will be one of the hardest things you have ever done.  But it is a non-negotiable step in self-transformation.

I used to meet with a trusted friend, and we would confess our sin to each other.  We had two basic rules: RULE 1 Forget what was said.  That meant absolute confidentiality; and it meant that one could confess the same thing the next time without the fear of hearing, Wait a minute you confessed that the last time. RULE 2 Never white wash sin.  That meant being brutally honest and it meant that you didn’t brush off as unimportant the sin of the guy doing the confessing.

4. You must get serious and TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE.  Jesus said that he who commits the same sin habitually, is a slave to it.  (John 8:34) That means that the sin has spread out its tentacles into many different areas of your life.  And if you are going to get free from the sin, you must take charge of your entire life and not just one part where the sin is manifesting.

The modern gospel of Accept the Sinner without Challenging the sin is a false gospel and it is killing the vitality of the church as well as destroying what little credibility we have left in this world.  Friend, you must take charge of your life NOW!

check-list-18910583Here is a check list you can use to start work today:

  • Is your prayer life in right order?
  • Are you in God’s word every day?
  • How is your diet?  Too much caffeine, too much sugar, not enough fresh fruits and vegetables?  Most people in the west are over fed and under nourished.
  • Are getting exercise on a regular basis?
  • Are you taking captive your thoughts and attitudes?  Modern science has proven you can re-wire your brain and change toxic thought patterns.  But you must work on it.

There are three things you need to think about when you are imposing some much needed discipline into your life:

  1. The price of your forgiveness.  Jesus suffered greatly on your behalf to reconcile you before the Father.  If you could look Jesus in the eyes while he suffered for you on the cross would you think giving up sweats for Him would be too great of a sacrifice on your part?
  2. The price of disappointing.  People have gotten hurt because your life is out of order.  You need to pay a price to get your life back into order and to restore the trust.
  3. The price of your repentance.  Being honest about your failures is not easy.  It is heart wrenching.  You never want to go back to what you were.  So never forget the cost of repenting.

business-planning-to-achieve-success-274419555. Finally, you absolutely must MAKE A MEASURABLE PLAN for progress.  Make a chart, keep track of your progress, write daily in a personal journal.  And keep track of how you are doing.  Become your own personal life-coach.  And ask someone to help you keep you on track.

Friend, you are not just interested in fasting a couple of days.  You are pursuing a transformation of your life-style.  The apostle Paul wrote that we should be like those athletes who run with an intent to win. A boxer doesn’t just beat the air.  (1 Corinthians 9:24-26) This means that you will need to learn how to make a weekly plan, set measurable goals, and then pursue them.

To close, I feel it important here to add just a word about the grace of God.  Some might read this article and walk away from it saying, This is just works.  Much error is being propagated today about grace.  Paul wrote to Titus and said that grace has come teaching us, coaching us, to deny ungodliness, renounce our carnal passions, and to live a life-style marked by discipline, uprightness, and godliness. (Titus 2:11,12)

super-hero-5873798Grace is never to be seen as a license to do what we want to do.  Grace is our coach who is ever present in our lives trying to lift us up to a higher standard in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the world.  That grace is at work in you bringing you to the place of abandonment to the working of God’s Spirit who wants to make you more like Jesus.

You might have disappointed someone; you might have disappointed yourself.  But your life isn’t over.  Follow the above steps and you will see, God will use this situation to lift you to a higher level and to transform you into His hero.

So you want to become great?

Jesus said, Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.

I’ve heard this principle called Servant Leadership.  And in essence Jesus was trying to teach his disciples a different culture of leadership than that which they saw among the religious leaders and that which they saw among Roman officials.  Both of these models of leadership were based on a perception: people exist so that the leader might fulfill his destiny.  That perception is as old as the tower of Babel.  And it is the most prevalent model of leadership in the world today.

Every tyrant that has come to power has promised others that once in power he would share it with others.  This lie is one of the oldest one’s in the book.  And it is that carnal appeal that leads so many people into deception.  Time after time, people with ego-centric motivations promise great things to others in order that they might fulfill their personal dreams of greatness.

Jesus came to show mankind that leadership could be done by the culture of the kingdom of heaven.  So, if you want to become great … you have to basically humble yourself and help others achieve greatness.

clappingSo many people flock to leadership training seminars and earnestly desire to become great leaders.  But these desires aren’t much different that that of James and John who wanted to sit at each side of Jesus.  And the answer they got was, “You guys have no idea what you are asking for.”

In Oswald Chamber’s book, Spiritual Leadership, he identifies six qualities that every good leader must possess:

1. Dependence on God.  This is not just a dependence on what you perceive to be God’s gifts to you.  Rather, this is genuine, heart-felt dependence on the presence and the power of God.

2. Divine approval.  But this means divine testing.  In other words, the “endorsement” of your skills as a leader is not seen in how many people sing your praises, but if when you attempt to draw near to God, He actually runs to draw near to you.

3. Modesty.  In 1965 Mr. Chambers wrote this, “God’s servant conducts a ministry that appears almost self-effacing.  What a contrast to the arrogant self-advertising of so many hipsters today, both in and out of the church.”

4. Empathy.  A good leader doesn’t see the needs of the people as the necessary ladder he must use to get higher.  Rather, he is able to genuinely identify with the needs, and challenges of the people he is called to lead.

5. Optimism.  Again, Chambers writes, “Hope and optimism are essential qualities for the servant of God who battles with the powers of darkness over the souls of men and women.”

6. Anointing.  It is clear that none of these godly characteristics will do a man much good if God doesn’t come and give that man a special anointing to do what he is called to do.

helping-societyIn conclusion, I want to earnestly encourage you friend.  Don’t try and just copy the great techniques that the world might propose.  Rather, decide that you will become a great leader by the values that Jesus lived by.  The only time during the ministry of Jesus that he specifically said he was giving the disciples an example to follow was when he washed their feet.  True leadership, true greatness, begins when we lift others up to their full potential, regardless of the price to ourselves.

Desiring to excel…

Desiring to excel is not a sin. It is motivation that detirmines ambition’s character. Oswald Sanders.

Ambition, as an emotional energy is neutral. It is the reason behind ambition that makes it either godly or selfish.  n today’s ambition driven world is that it is hard for them to discern between the two.

Ambition has a “character,” as Mr. Sanders so well describes. And it is the motivation behind the ambition that will detirmine it’s character.

Why do you do what you do? Who do you do it for? When no one sees what you have done does it rob you of the joy of having done it?

These and other soul-searching questions will help the emerging leader discover what is in his own heart. The art of self-interogation is a protection against the blinding effects of selfish ambition.

Godly versus Worldly Model of Leadership

There is a great difference between worldly standards of leadership and biblical standards.  In the “church-world” many have perfected the techniques that are taught in great schools across the planet.  They may “white-wash” and “sanctify” what the world does.  But in the end, it still remains a worldly form of leadership.

God is training and equipping a new generation of leader both in the church-world and in the business-world.  A new model of leadership will emerge, one in which godly character stands toe-to-toe with a results-driven leadership.

John Maxwell, renowned author and speaker on leadership, has said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”  Though this may appear on the surface as being a bit simplistic, I have found it to be extremely true.

So whether you are working to be a better leader in your home, in your business or in your church, you should be pursuing more training in biblical leadership.  Don’t just think that because someone was successful in the past, that the old model will work in today’s ever-changing world.

Be Bible-based, Christ-centered, and other’s-driven, in your leadership model.

Training Leaders in France

By Robert Baxter

Robert teaching at an EQUIP event in Paris.

Robert teaching at an EQUIP event in Paris.

Nearly ten years ago I came into contact with a group out of Atlanta called EQUIP.  At that time they talked about their “Million Leaders Mandate” that God had given to author/speaker John Maxwell.  John had put many of his teachings on leadership into a simple format of 6 work books, each with six chapters.  A “successful” pastor in the US would be appointed to each nation as the designate “Trainer” to teach the six books over a period of three years.

Equip Cahier smallPastors and other leaders receiving the training would then commit to transmitting the same course to leaders within their churches or other spheres of influence.  And in this way within a short period of time more than a million leaders would be trained around the world.

To this day an estimated 3 and a half million leaders have been trained, and there is no end in sight.  It has become one of the most successful training tools to ever leave the shores of the US to benefit the rest of the world.

Members of the national committee included (from l to r) Jean-René Bruandet, Angelo Pace, Philippe Gablin, and John Tressel who also served as Nat'l Coordinator for several years.

Members of the national committee included (from l to r) Jean-René Bruandet, Angelo Pace, Philippe Gablin, and John Tressel who also served as Nat’l Coordinator for several years.

By the time I had heard about EQUIP the program had gone through most of Asia and Europe already.  It turned out that France was one of the last countries to get moving on it.  It was a “tough sell” to French leaders.  John Maxwell, at the time, was much better known in the secular world than in the church world.  And all a French pastor could think of was, “Oh no, another thing from the US.”

Paul and Denise Goulet, Paul, pastor of the International Church of Las Vegas has been the national trainer for France since the beginning.

Paul and Denise Goulet. Paul, pastor of the International Church of Las Vegas has been the national trainer for France since the beginning.

A national “pilot” training course was finally organised and held in the city of Dijon (famous for its spice bread and mustard).  Just before the end of the three year training program a similar training course was organised just for the city of Paris.

We have been blessed from the beginning to profit from the expert teaching of pastor Paul Goulet from Las Vegas, Nevada, who has been the designate National Trainer from the beginning.  His Belgian roots, and his Canadian French have helped him overcome the general distaste and mistrust of American ministers.  His anointed charisma and genuine sincerity have contributed greatly to the overall success of these two training programs.  The result is that more than 250 pastors and leaders received their training, and are now reproducing the training in their churches, denominations and other spheres of influence.

Paul teaching at the Paris event.

Paul teaching at the Paris event.

After the initial launch of EQUIP France I resigned my position as National Coordinator, but remained an active member of the national committee.  Today our church administrator, Philippe Gablin, has assumed that position and is doing a phenomenal job in promoting new training programs throughout France and the French-speaking world.

Robert teaching to more than 200 pastors and leaders in Martinique.

Robert teaching to more than 200 pastors and leaders in Martinique.

Under the leadership of Philippe, we have launched four “regional” training programs in France, Valencienne, Lyon, Marseilles and Martinique.  More than 300 church and secular leaders are currently involved in these regional training programs.  In addition to these, new sites are being developed in Ivory Coast, Benin, Chad, New Caledonia, and even China!

I have the great privilege to be one of the designate trainers in three of the four regional training programs in France.  As the international training programs develop we will see if I will have the time and energy to participate in them as well.

For the international website of EQUIP click here.

For the French website of EQUIP-France click here.