He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down without walls (Proverbs 25:28).
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit than he that takes a city (Proverbs 16:32).
If we consider leadership to be the ability to show the way, give direction and rally forces to achieve a specific goal, then the above passages are simply telling us that we must be able to give ourselves direction, be able to identify and positions ourselves on the right path before ever attempt help others achieve the same goal.
The first passage suggests that the inability to rules one’s spirit, that is, to lead oneself leads to disorder and chaos.
- Lack of self-control or restrain
- In ability to defend oneself from intruders
- Vulnerability to invasions of all kinds
This is the image of a city that is broken down and without walls. There is no telling what could happen to it at any given time.
The second passage talks about the importance of developing self-discipline and self-rule; then we can steer others in the same direction.
How can I possibly rule the city I just conquered if I can’t rule my own spirit? Do I have control over my…
- Appetite and desires?
- Attitude and responses?
- How do I react in the face of opposition?
- How do I act or react when I’m angry?
- What is my attitude when I realize I made a mistake?
- How do I handle my desire and appetite, especially when they seem to get out of control?
- Can I say ‘yes’ even when everything in me is saying ‘no’?
Every human being is called to lead in one way or the other.
We lead in the home, in the classroom, in church or at the job. Sometimes we spontaneously find ourselves in a leadership position we hardly anticipated a few minutes back; for instance helping children across a buy street or supervising a rescue mission we run into.
The way we handle ourselves will determine how well we lead those we are responsible for.
I’m not happy with you, you’re fired
I’m happy today, we’re having a party
I’m feeling depressed, let’s postpone the meeting
I’m discouraged, let’s give up on the project
I’m not interested in this, we won’t go in that direction
I like her very much, she can do as she pleases
I’m excited, lets start a new project
I don’t like the way he speaks, I won’t hire him
I’m feeling guilty, I won’t take another initiative
What are our priorities?
who can provide what we need?
How can we improve our production?
what resources do we need?
what extra effort is needed?
what is our target?
what amount of risk is acceptable?
what image do we want to portray?
who is being positively impacted by our services?
It is natural for people to react strangely to what is new, strange, baffling or even exciting. Talking about what is new, we have a lot of it in the body of Christ principally because God is always doing something new and because the devil is always trying to counterfeit God. Criticism is neither strange nor surprising; it is rather our reaction to it that can be both strange and surprising.
How did Jesus react to the constant attacks from the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Jews in general? He was mostly criticized for not keeping the Sabbath, (Mark 9, John 9, John. 5), and for making Himself equal to God. (John. 8:56-58, John. 10:30). In the face of all this, Jesus remained calm and focused. He was not moved to hit back or lose His temper. He knew who He was and who was backing Him.
Jesus knew within Himself that He was genuine and on the right path, so He did not need to change His character or style, His vision or values in order to satisfy the demands of His detractors.
However, He did listen to them and gave ample explanations where necessary. For instance, He took time to explain to the “Law Keepers” that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, thus, it is unfair to allow a man continue in pain just because we want to respect the Sabbath. He also explained to them his messianic mission although they were plagued with unbelief and never got to benefit from His presence among them.
The lesson we can learn from this is that, we must never let criticism push us out of focus or away from our vision and values. People will always have something to say, and if you keep mutating in response to it, you will end up with a strangely-colored man-made vision and a queerly-decorated world-inspired ministry.
At the same time, we must not close our ears and eyes to critics. Sometimes, being in the forefront disconnects us from daily reality and critics become a check on our excesses. They bring us back to reality. Each time you are criticized, it gives you an opportunity to re-examine your values and decisions.
In all, your reaction to criticism is a reflection of how confident you are in God and what He has called you to do. If you are deeply rooted in God, like the baobab tree, you will not be afraid of the wind.