Titus Connection July 2021

Volume 15, Number   7 – July, 2021

Greetings.  In this Titus Connection, part 3 of a Shepherd’s Way is featured.  Relationships and you as a leader serving others meet here as the article unfolds.  Then from the life of Ananias, we are given a very quick one day snapshot of a believer who with a lot of courage, obeyed the Holy Spirit’s leading and played a role in Paul’s spiritual journey. Enjoy and pursue being the best shepherd to the people to whom you have been entrusted by the Lord.   Mike


          As you read through John 10 and the account of the Good Shepherd, we learn that the sheep knows their shepherd’s voice and stay away from a stranger’s voice.  A saying growing up for me was, “Stranger – Danger”.  That is what it is here.  The sheep will stay away from the stranger because that is danger to them. 
          As your flock of those you have responsibility over whether in church, business or team setting learn more about who you are, they will trust and lean on you.  People actually do not care how much you know and everything else about you UNTIL they know how much you care for them.  If you want your people to identify with you, then you need to get close enough in their lives to see who you are and that you do care for them.  Then they will come when you call on them because they know you!  There is no getting around that truth.
          You build into their lives and eventually they will build into yours.  They then believe you have their best interests in mind especially when you have to perhaps reprimand or correct something they are doing wrong, or possibly even having to let them go as we talked about in the second principle.  If you are a good shepherd, there are going to be times that you have to inflict some level of discomfort or pain in their lives, to help them become the best they can become.
        If you want to impact people, your flock, you need to help SHAPE them (from principle 2) and then put your mark on them.  As you allow people to get close to you, you will leave who you are on them, your personal imprint, and that instills a sense of meaning and belonging in your team.  They see the real you, they see your heart, they see that you want the best for them and that you will do whatever in your power to protect and help them succeed – that creates meaning and belonging.
          When people on the team can point to and acknowledge together what you as the leader (shepherd) stands for, they will rally around you and identify with you because you have gotten close to them and identified who they are and you care for them.  It is time consuming and not the easiest thing to do.  Make sure they know you love and care for them regardless of their lives’ situations. 
          Being a person of integrity and principle, having high standards of morals and judgment are vital.  You are authentic and pursue the best for yourself and others (1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:23).  Be compassionate and gracious, trustworthy.  Always be interested in them and who they are, helping them to pursue their purpose in life.  Take the time to get personal with them by making them the most important person in your world at that time.  This is how the sheep will know your voice and not stray from you, even when discipline is involved. 
           What is important to the individuals on your team?  Do you know more than their name?  What is going on in the lives of their families?  When there is joy and excitement, do you join in?  When there is sadness and tragedy, do you ache and hurt with them?  Do you regularly and intentionally pray for them? 
          Have you or I placed people on our “team” to make us look good or determine what we can use them for, to make us look good?  When someone on the team does well, does that person get the credit from you or do you steal their “thunder” and take the credit?  There are many more questions I need to ask myself to work at being the best shepherd I can be to whom God has placed responsibility upon.  God gives us responsibility or stewardship with people placed in our lives.  Will God be able to say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful with what I have given you, now be faithful with more responsibility.”?  May God find me faithful. 


          Ananias was doing his normal work one day, thinking about the ramifications of the decision he made becoming a follower of Jesus and how much he had grown spiritual since making that decision.  With all the tension and uncertainty surrounding Jesus’ followers because Jewish leadership with their main leader, Saul, was rounding up believers and persecuting them, Ananias was definitely planning to simply mind his own business and be cautious. 
         Things were going okay for him, then all of a sudden, out of the blue, Jesus showed up and talked directly to him which had to freak Ananias out because God had never directly spoken to him before.  But he did recognize God’s voice.  God gave him instructions to go over to Judas’ house on Straight Street in Damascus and there he would find Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:10-16)! 
           Just hearing God’s voice unnerved Ananias, but then be told to go over to Judas’ house and connect with Saul of Tarsus, was over the top.  “Wait a minute, God,” Ananias spit out, “Saul is the vicious one rounding up believers and persecuting them.  Have you not heard the reports!  You got the wrong guy for me to meet.  This Saul is dangerous, and I am scared to do what you want me to do.”
          The Lord’s reply was simply, “Do as I tell you for Saul is praying to me right now and had a vision you were coming because Saul is my chosen instrument to take the Good News to the Gentiles and kings and Israel.  And he has to suffer for me!”  What a message to share from God, especially the part about suffering for Jesus.  That was crazy.  How would Saul take such a message and besides that, Ananias was a nobody?
            Well, Ananias went to Judas’ house on Straight Street, Damascus, obediently doing what he was told.  Boldly, Ananias laid hands on Saul to have him see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  And then he left.  We do not hear about this Ananias again other than Paul (Saul) mentioning him in a testimony (Acts 22:12), about what happened to Paul in Damascus.
          Obedience especially when it deals with life and death, when the future is so uncertain, takes moral and spiritual courage.  Ananias did not know if Saul would turn on him as Saul’s reputation was slayer of Jesus’ followers.  True, God spoke to Ananias but there was the situation where Saul would have to be obedient to God also (and suffer for God). 
         Throughout the Bible, God brings people into His story to follow in obedience to Him.  For many of these biblical characters, they are part of His story for a short episode, but He draws them in to carry out His sovereign plan.  The decision to be obedient is in the choice of the character, as in Ananias’ case.  Would Paul had followed God’s plan for his life regardless what Ananias decided?  Yes.  Ananias was able to share in the blessings of living an obedient life.
         What is God prompting you to be or doing?  We have a free will like Ananias to make our choices.   Human wise, was it risky for Ananias to follow through with God’s direction?  For sure, but he did and received the blessing of obedience.  Have you or I missed blessings in the past because of our lack of faith or obedience?  If you are like me, yes we have missed blessings from the Lord for being faithful to what we were called upon to complete. 
         In His sovereignty and controlling the world even with all the choices we are freely able to make, He accomplishes His will regardless, but we miss out on blessings He has in store for us when we refuse to be obedient.  Be like Ananias.  Take that step of faith you are being encouraged to follow through on.  Watch how God uses you.