We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.
2 Chron. 20:12
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When the Old Testament king Jehoshaphat received word that three armies had conspired together and were coming against him in one massive assault, he made a decisive and unconventional leadership move.
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Every leader around the globe is in a similar predicament.
Faced with the three-pronged advance of a global health pandemic, a world economy that’s come to a screeching halt, and the personal crisis of anxiety and fear—what can we learn from this ancient leader that’s applicable today?
The odds weren’t good for Jehoshaphat, and, honestly, they aren’t that great for a lot of families and businesses right now.
Deep down, most leaders who have weathered brutal storms know that we’ll get through it. We always do. We will endure the carnage and emerge from the depths to grow and prosper again. But that’s going to take time—a long time. Right now, we’re in the valley of the shadow of death.
So how do we lead through these dark hours?
Let’s look closely at the path Jehoshaphat chose.
First, he called the people to seek God. The King prayed this transformational twelve-word prayer—We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.
We don’t all have the liberty to corporately call our people to seek God. But every leader does have the opportunity to privately seek heaven’s help before leading others into the fray.
By nature, leaders are confident, skilled, and battle tested. So often we roll out of bed and start leading the charge. It’s easy to wake up, survey the landscape, and immediately focus on solving problems, creating opportunities, and marshalling the troops.
Yet, ultimately, any leader is only as durable as the humility that undergirds them—the humility that drives them to first seek help from the Lord.
The hallmark of every great leader is the ability to lead oneself. This means facing your limitations and leaning on your Maker. We lead best by allowing God to lead us.
Some object: “You can’t be humble in my line of work. You can never show weakness or people will run right over you!”
Humility doesn’t equate to weakness. Rather, it’s where we find our strength. Or better yet, humility is the place we access God’s supply.
Hurricane-forced winds require exceptional leadership—leadership that begins with this plea: God, I don’t know what to do. But my eyes are on you.
It’s not always prudent to lead a shareholder call or staff meeting with this confession. People are looking for stability in their leaders and are counting on us to project confidence in worst-case scenarios like we face today. But that doesn’t hinder us from privately staying tethered to the reality that we are completely dependent on God. (It doesn’t hurt to say it every once in a while to our closest team leaders, either).
This posture of humility is essential because it positions us for supernatural assistance.
A word came to the king and a battle plan was set in motion. Jehoshaphat was told, “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you” (2 Chron. 20:17).
God isn’t asking you to over-spiritualize your situation: “Hey guys, we’re just going to trust God with our enterprise and see what happens! Sit back and relax.”
Check out all the active verbs: Take up your position. Stand firm. Look. Go out. Face them.
Yet, as you go, keep the oxygen of God’s supernatural supply flowing with your every breath. In his Spirit power you can find the power to do what Jehoshaphat did next.
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He set out. He stood up. He spoke. (v.20)
Set out in faith that God is with you.
Stand up on the Rock of Ages.
Speak with authority because God will not fail.
Then Jehoshaphat did one final thing before heading into the battle—he praised God. The king thanked God in advance for the victory God had promised.
With God’s help, Jehoshaphat and his army experienced God’s deliverance in the battle. In the same way, God is going to deliver you.
Dear God, I lift my eyes to You. Please disrupt my false sense of control and my overblown confidence in my own abilities. I humbly bow and ask for your supernatural strength, wisdom and courage so I can endure these days and lead myself and others with faith for the future. My daily prayer will be: I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on you. Lead me and use me as an agent for your glory. In Jesus name, Amen.
Louie Giglio is pastor of Passion City Church and the founder of the Passion movement, which exists to call a generation to leverage their lives for the fame of Jesus.
[ This article is also available in Português ]
If the benefits of physical activity are legion, so are the reasons for avoiding it. We've got suggestions for adding some to your day.
You already know that exercise is good for you. What you may not know is just how good — or exactly what qualifies as exercise. That's what this issue of the Health Letter is all about. The notion that physical activity helps keep us healthy is very old news indeed. Hippocrates wrote about the dangers of too little activity (and too much food). Tai chi, an exercise system of graceful movements that originated in China, dates from the 12th century B.C. Yoga's roots in India go back much further.
But old ideas aren't necessarily good ones, or have much evidence to back them up. This isn't a problem for exercise — or physical activity, the term many researchers prefer because it's more of a catchall. A deluge of studies have documented its health benefits. Many are observational, which always pose the problem of showing associations (people who exercise happen to be healthy) not proof of cause and effect (it's the exercise that makes those people healthy). But after statistical adjustments, these studies suggest that the connection between exercise and health is more than just an association. Besides, results from randomized clinical trials, which are usually seen as making the case for causality, also point to exercise making people healthier.
What's impressive about this research, aside from the sheer volume, is the number of conditions exercise seems to prevent, ameliorate, or delay.
We're used to hearing about exercise fending off heart attacks. The American Heart Association promulgated the country's first set of exercise guidelines in 1972. And it's not hard to envision why exercise helps the heart. If you're physically active, your heart gets trained to beat slower and stronger, so it needs less oxygen to function well; your arteries get springier, so they push your blood along better; and your levels of 'good' HDL cholesterol go up.
It's also not much of a surprise that physical activity helps prevent diabetes. Muscles that are used to working stay more receptive to insulin, the hormone that ushers blood sugar into cells, so in fit individuals blood sugar levels aren't as likely to creep up.
But exercise as a soldier in the war against cancer? It seems to be, and on several fronts: breast, colon, endometrial, perhaps ovarian. The effect of physical activity on breast cancer prevention may be stronger after menopause than before, although some research suggests that it takes quite a lot to make a difference: four to seven hours of moderate to vigorous activity a week. Three studies have found that if you've had colon cancer or breast cancer, physical activity reduces the chances of it coming back.
To top things off, moving the body seems to help the brain. Several studies have found that exercise can reduce the symptoms of depression, and it changes the brain in ways similar to antidepressant medications. In old age, physical activity may delay the slide of cognitive decline into dementia, and even once that process has started, exercise can improve certain aspects of thinking.
Easy to avoid
We have to eat, so following nutritional advice is a matter of making choices. Swap out saturated fats for healthy oils. Eat whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates.
But in this day and age, many (perhaps most) people don't need to be physically active unless they choose to be. And most evidence suggests that the choice of the kind of activity is far less important than whether to be active at all. About half of adult Americans don't meet one of the most oft-cited guidelines, which calls for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (a fast walking pace) most days of the week — and you can accumulate that total in bouts of 10 to 15 minutes. About a quarter of American adults say they devote none of their free time to active pursuits.
Clearly some of us are less athletic than others — and some unathletic individuals were simply born that way. Twin studies suggest that about half of the difference in physical activity among people is probably inherited. And researchers are making headway in identifying particular genes that may influence how we respond to physical exertion. For example, they've identified some of the genes responsible for variation in the beta-agonist receptors in the lungs. How your lungs and heart react to strenuous exercise depends, in part, on those receptors.
But genetic explanations for behaviors like exercising only go so far. Many other influences come into play: family, neighborhood, cultural attitudes, historical circumstances. Research has shown, not surprisingly, that active children are more likely to have parents who encouraged them to be that way. Perceptions of how active parents are also seem to matter. The safety and layout of neighborhoods is a factor, particularly for children. In a dangerous place, having children stay home and watch television instead of going to the park to play might be the healthier choice simply because it's safer.
The trip of a thousand miles begins...
In addition to getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week we should also resistance training to build up muscle strength twice a week. But some exercise, even if it is pretty minimal, is better than none, particularly among people who are very sedentary.
So in that spirit, we've made 27 suggestions for ways to become a little bit more physically active.
1. Take the far away spot. Walking from the farthest corner of the parking lot will burn a few calories. If it's a parking garage, head for the roof and use the stairs.
2. Walk to the next stop. If you take a bus or train, don't wait at the nearest stop. Walk to the next one. Or, at the end of your journey, get off a stop early and finish up on foot.
3. Hang loose. During your bus or train trip, stand and don't hold on too tightly. You'll improve your sense of balance and build up your 'core' back and abdominal muscles.
4. Get into the swing of it. Swinging your arms when you walk will help you reach the brisk pace of 3 to 4 miles per hour that is the most healthful.
5. Walk and talk. If you are a member of a book group, propose 15 to 20 minutes of peripatetic discussion of the book before you sit down and chat.
6. Walk while you watch. Soccer moms, dads, and grandparents can circle the field several times during a game and not miss a single play.
7. Walk tall. Maintaining good posture — chest out, shoulders square but relaxed, stomach in — will help keep your back and abdominal muscles in shape. Besides, you'll just look a whole lot healthier if you don't slouch (mom was right).
8. Adopt someone as your walking, jogging, or biking buddy. Adding a social element to exercise helps many people stick with it.
9. That buddy might have four legs. Several studies have shown that dog owners get more exercise than the canine-less.
10. Be part of the fun. Adults shouldn't miss a chance to jump into the fray if kids are playing on a playground or splashing around in the water. Climbing on the jungle gym (be careful!) and swinging on a swing will strengthen muscles and bones and set a good example.
11. Dine al fresco. Tired of eating at home? Skip the restaurant meal, which tends to be heavy on the calories. Pack a picnic. You'll burn calories looking for the best spot and carrying the picnic basket.
12. Put on your dancing shoes. Exercise doesn't have to be done in a straight line. Dancing can get your heart going and helps with balance. Dance classes tend to have lower dropout rates than gyms. Or just turn up the volume at home and boogie.
13. Wash and dry the dishes by hand. The drying alone is a mini-workout for the arms.
14. Don't use an electric can opener. It's good for your hand, wrist, and arm muscles to use a traditional opener. For the same reason, peel and chop your own vegetables and avoid the precut versions.
15. Clean house. Even if you have a cleaning service, you can take responsibility for vacuuming a couple of rooms yourself. Fifteen minutes burns around 80 calories. Wash some windows and do some dusting and you've got a pretty decent workout — and a cleaner house.
16. Hide that remote. Channel surfing can add hours to screen time. If you have to get up to change the channel, you are more likely to turn it off and maybe do something else that's less sedentary.
17. Go swimmingly somewhere. Swimming is great exercise if you have arthritis because the water supports your weight, taking the load off of joints. The humid air around a pool sometimes makes breathing more comfortable for people with lung problems.
18. Take a walk on the waterside. Even people who can't, or don't like to, swim can get a good workout by walking through the water. Try walking fast, and you'll get cardiovascular benefits. Walking in water is a great way to rehabilitate if you're recovering from an injury and certain types of surgery because the water acts as a spotter, holding you up.
19. Don't e-mail. In the office, get out of your chair, walk down the hallway, and talk to the person. At home, write an old-fashioned letter and walk to a mailbox — and not the nearest one — to mail it.
20. Stand up when you're on the phone. Breaking up long periods of sitting has metabolic benefits. Even standing for a minute or two can help.
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21. Grow a garden. No matter how green the thumb, the digging, the planting, the weeding, and the picking will ramp up your activity level and exercise sundry muscles.
22. Use a push mower. Even if you have a large lawn, pick a small part of it to mow in the old-fashioned way. You get a nice workout, you're not burning any gas, and it's usually quieter. The same reasoning favors the rake over the leaf blower.
23. Think small. Small bouts of activity are better than knocking yourself out with a workout that will be hard to replicate.
24. Be a stair master. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator whenever you can. It's good for your legs and knees, and your cardiovascular health will benefit from the little bit of huffing and puffing. Don't overdo. One flight at a time.
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25. Stairs tip #2. You'll give the gluteal muscles a nice little workout if you can climb up two stairs at a time.
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26. Stairs tip #3. You can give your calf muscles a nice little stretch by putting the ball of the foot on the stair and lowering your heel.