Have you ever felt insecure about something in life? Insecurity causes to do some crazy self-sabatoging things. Think about King Saul for example. He clearly recognized David as a mighty warrior , a valuable team member, an obedient servant, a favored man, and an effective leader. Saul also clearly saw him as a potential successor and threat. 

When Saul began to hear the scuttle of the Israelite ladies comparing him to David...and him coming out second best (1 Sam 18:7), his fear and insecurity drove him to turn against David. 

Here are 9 things about Insecurity to consider: 

1. Insecurity causes us look to at activity with suspicion. Saul looked at David's every activity with suspicion...knowing that David was anointed and appointed by God. Saul's insecurity resulted in him viewing the activity of God with suspicion. 

2. Insecurity causes us to want to kill activity. Saul hurled his spear at David to try and kill him. Saul's insecurity led to want to kill what God was doing around him thru David. 

3. Insecurity leads us to fear others. Saul feared David because God's spirit was with him. His insecurity blinded the fact that God was originally with him. 

4. Insecurity leads us to bring about unnecessary drastic changes. Saul changed David's position to prevent them from seeing each other. Saul's insecurity drove him to create distance between himself and what God was doing. 

5. Insecurity leads to dread. Saul dreaded being compared to David in anyway. His insecurity led him to focus more on what others thought about him then what God was doing thru him. 

6. Insecurity leads to deceit. Saul was so insecure that he literally sponsored secrets to deceive David. In other words he sponsored lies to deceive a movement of God. 

7. Insecurity leads to unnecessary blindness. Saul perception about himself changed from being King to being David's enemy. In his insecurity, Saul became blind to how God was using David to advance the very people Saul was leading. He became blind to his role as King because all he could see was his role as an enemy. 

8. Insecurity leads to sin. Saul put David in charge of 1,000 troops in hopes that the Philistine Army would kill David. Saul's motive was murder not promotion. 

9. Insecurity leads to unnecessary sacrifice. Saul gave away his daughter to David in hopes that she would be a snare to him. He sacrificed his daughter and any relationship he could have with her because of his insecurity. Often times we will be so focused on our insecurity we forsake and push those we care about the most away...OUR FAMILY! 

The enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy. One the easiest ways for him to achieve his goal in your life is to cause you to be insecure. At the end of the day, it all came down to Saul being insecure in himself and how God was using him in comparison to how God was using David.  Saul lost his kingdom, his friendship with David, his family, his legacy, his anointing by God,  and ultimately his life because of his insecurity.  He was robbed, he was destroyed, and in the end he was killed...all because he gave his power away to insecurity. 

Nobody enjoys failure. However, times of failure not only reveal your true character, but also present opportunities for significant lessons. One of the hardest lessons to learn about failure is where to  place the blame. When we fail, we most often look at external reasons as to why we failed. This didn't work, that didn't work, he or she did or didn't do something. We are quick to pass the reason to something or someone other than ourselves. The lesson we haven't learned is that our willingness to take responsibility for our actions demonstrates the depth of our character. 

We see this in the story of David and the census. (1 Chronicles 21:1-17) Following a major victory over the Philistines, King David made a major mistake. The king chose to listen to Satan , stopped trusting God for the defense of his nation, and undertook a census. His pride in the growth of his kingdom blinded his judgement. David ignored spiritual counsel and failed miserably...as most people do at some point in the life. 

David's willingness to approach God and take responsibility for his actions demonstrated his depth of character. David refused to place blame...even though the scriptures states he was provoked by Satan. Of all the times to use the excuse, "the Devil made me do it" this was it. Surely God would understand that Satan did to David what Satan did to Job. Surely God would understand and forgive this man who after all was a man after his own heart. Did David use this excuse....nope. Instead, he repented and accepted punishment from the hand of God, acknowledging the mercy of God and trusting in the grace of God. The price of David's failure was 70,000 lives. 

We all face failures in life. Our character is tested and revealed during our times of failure. Who you choose to blame has profound effects on future failures. We all know people who fail at the same thing over and over again...this by definition is insanity.  David learned from his failure with God. His choice to count his soldiers revealed he was beginning to place more confidence in his troops then he was in the power of God, as a result he failed. His choice to seek God for his punishment and accept the responsibility proved his divine dependency. This was a victory. When you face failures in life realize YOU are the decision away from victory. 
You might it call it Deja Vu all over again. First Chronicles 20 describes David's army battling and defeating Philistine giants. When reading 1 Chronicles 20 you can't help but think back to the story of David and Goliath, and how a young shepherd boy did what an entire army couldn't do. So what changed between then and now with the army? David's men had learned the second verse of the song of David and Goliath. 

David a Giant Killer had selected and trained giant killers just like himself. David knew that a great leader models behavior...not just knowledge. He knew that his behavior is what multiplied. People do what people see. David knew a great leader could only multiply what he himself had first become. David was a giant killer first before a king and leader. David could have tried to teach courage like he had, but instead focused on reproducing what he was.  

We teach what we know, but reproduce what we are.  Consider this...

1. It takes one to know one. Have you ever noticed that you tend to see what we posses ourselves. If you drive a specific kind of car you begin to see that car everywhere, where as before you owned you never really noticed it. David was a giant killer and what he saw in the men in his army was giant killers. It is important for you to become a giant killer yourself because you will one have to recognize this is someone else. Fathers...you can't see your son being a giant killer if you yourself aren't one. 

2. It takes one to show one. We cannot model for someone what we haven't done.  It's easier to learn from someone who has done the very thing you are learning. Otherwise...it's just the blind leading the blind. It took a giant killer to teach others to be a giant killer. This is why it is so important to become a giant killer yourself. You will one day have to teach what it takes to be a giant killer. 

3. It takes one to grow one. We cannot train someone until we have done it ourselves. Being a giant killer is not learned but trained. It takes courage to stand up to the presence of a giant. It takes skill to stay in the battle with a giant. It takes training to know your weapon. David didn't just use any weapon to defeat Goliath. He used the one weapon he knew best. It took training on David's part to become so skilled with that weapon that he knew he use it to defeat a giant.  

Have you ever come across somebody that just seems to rub you the wrong way? We all have, at some point in our life. Most of the time, when we come across somebody that seems to be difficult or demanding, overbearing, spacey, unpredictable, explosive, and a pity pot we just turn the other way and don't want to deal with them. We don't want to have a relationship with them...unless they are family...then your stuck with them. We don't want to be around them, we don't want to talk to them, we just don't fit well with them and so why have the added stress of their life to your life. 

So what does that leave us? That leaves us connecting with the type of people who share a similar personality. Haven't you ever noticed how like minded people seem to flock together? If we spend our lives avoiding certain types of people we will miss out on a lot of opportunities to impact their lives. So the question is... how do you cope with difficult relationships in your life? 

There are 7 key types of personalities and strategies for dealing with each type to help influence greatness in their lives. . 

1. The Sherman Tank. This is the person that is like a bulldozer. They dominate you and ride right over people. It can be hard to get a word in during a conversation. The strategy for dealing with a person like this is to consider the issues that are important to you and be willing to stand up for what you believe is right. Know that you don't always have to engage in battle with this person. Accept their personality, but battle when it's important to you. 

2. The Space Cadet. This person just seems to live on a different plant than you. They don't make much sense during conversations and often leave you wondering...where did that come from. The strategy for positively dealing with a person like this is to identify their unique gifts and then help them develop them. 

3. The Volcano. This person is explosive and unpredictable. They have a short fuse and often times it feels like your walking on egg shells when around this person. You never know what you will say to set them off. The strategy to influence this person is more on a one on one basis. You want to listen to them and be direct with them. This is not a person to beat around the bush with as they don't. The connect to directness. 

4. The Thumb Sucker. This person is a pity pot. It's always woe is me. My life sucks, this world sucks, everything sucks. This person is often seeking recognition for their view of the world. The view of the glass being half empty can really be a downer and can bring you down after a while. It can be easy to validate this person's view. Don't! One of the greatest ways to change a persons view of how bad their life is to expose to a persons life who is worse. There is an amazing opportunity to impact this persons live by serving with this person at a shelter or something that exposes them to real troubles. 

5. The Wet Blanket. This person is similar to the thumb sucker, in that they are always down. This person is more down about everything else other than themselves. They look to booster themselves up by putting the world down. They often struggle with hidden identity issues and so they have to make them selves appear to be greater than what they really think they are. You can help this person achieve greatness in their live by being honest with them, not catering to their downing of everything, and help them balance between leading a conversation and following a conversation. You will find a wet blanket likes to lead the conversations. Since this person struggles with identity issues, find ways to help this person develop their identity. 

6. The Garbage Collector: This person just seems to attract the worst in life. Their "so-called" friends bring them down instead of lifting them up. Everything seems to pile sky high with the garbage collector. Just when you couldn't think things get worse...they do. The garbage collector has learned that negativity wrapped around their personal issues garners attention and pity. You can help this person by challenging their statements and forcing them to honesty. The garbage collector dramatizes their life, often embellishing to the point of out right lying. They tell fisherman size stories, where the fish keeps getting bigger and bigger. 

7. The User: This person demands lot of time and energy. This love to be around you and often ask you for everything under the sun. If they are going somewhere, do you want to go with them. Can you help them, can they help you....they just seem to always be there...talking up residence in your life. This person requires boundaries and accountability. The User might actually one of the easiest to help lead to greatness because they invest themselves completely. It's just finding a positive outlet for growth to help them invest themselves into. 

Have you ever felt empty in life? It's not a fun feeling at all...but sometimes...emptiness can be a wonderful gift. There is something about "nothing" that moves God's hand. He created something from nothing. We see this in the picture of creation but more importantly we see this in how God moves in people who are empty. He loves leading us to empty places where we can lean on nothing except his provision. Sometimes in life when you feel like you are not experiencing God's presence and provision it could be because you aren't empty enough. Could it be that we are still distracted and dependent on ourselves? 

There is an story about Running On "E" in 2 Kings.  One day Elisha meets a woman with nothing- no husband, no income, no food, and no prospects of change on the horizon. The prophet Elisha tells her to gather what she has, and she returns with a jar of oil and several empty jars from neighbors. She begins to pour her oil into the empty jars, and she keeps pouring until all the jars are full. Only then does the oil in the first jar run out. It's amazing that she gets as much oil as she has empty jars. 

Here is the point.

1. Emptiness is a gift from God not a punishment from God. We often look at it as some sort of punishment. As a a result, we often find ourselves questioning the promises and the validity of the Lord, instead of being thankful for the gift.  

2. Emptiness tells us we have a need.  We naturally like to take care of our own needs, yet we have a father that wants to provide for us. We ask for his provisions while attempting to attain the very provision we are asking for....ourselves. 

3. It is possible that we may not be empty enough. Notice it wasn't until the woman was completely empty before she came to Elisha. Often times our lack of complete emptiness prevents us from coming to the Lord because there is a flicker of hope we can fix the issue. 

4. We must admit our emptiness. Admitting your emptiness to God admits your need for him. 

5. Only God can truly fill us. 
When I was kid I was always in such a hurry to get whatever task my parents gave me done as fast as possible. My parents were always telling me to slow down and listen to them. So many times I wish I would have! Often times the task only got partially completed correctly because what I heard them say about the task and I what I listen to them say about the task to be completed... were two very different things. 

As a parent now I realize more than ever the difference between hearing and listening. I have learned that one of the fastest ways to earn the right to speak into peoples lives is through listening. By listening well you will be able to speak with relevance. By listening well you display love, compassion and understanding. I have also learned that just because you hear does not mean you are listening. 

I can tell you many a conflict would have been avoided if I had listened better.  Many times my wife has said to me, "You are not listening to me!" I then repeat back to her exactly what she said to prove I heard hear. She is trying to making a point that I am not listening to her out of love, and I am trying to prove a point that I heard her because I love her. There is a difference between the two. As a man...and most men do this...we attempt to placate our wives by hearing them, when in actuality our brains are else where. I mean who really cares about what so and so said, or did, or wore. This is what we think and because we think this we shut them out as they speak. We view their words as irrelevant and our actions chip away at genuine love. 

There is a story about David who once snuck up on Saul while Saul was sleeping. Now Saul was trying to kill David during this time period. David, instead of killing him...took his spear and water jug and later from a distance confronted King Saul with questions. David showed that a leader who listens possess a genuine love. 

Here are four things I want you to learn about genuine love and listening well. 

1. Genuine Love is not always popular...be different. Remember David's men? Malcontents. Disgruntled. More than once they encouraged David to look out for himself and take Saul's life, but David refused. We must be careful how we interpret circumstance and whose advice we accept. God was with David and Samuel the prophet and confirmed David as King. So often people will speak into your life suggestions that seem to be wise or make sense at the time, but later you find out were mistakes that took you away from a specific course God had you on. I once was advised by numerous church friends to stick it out at a church I was at. I loved the church, the people there, the pastor, the message was great, but while I was feeling all this love...there was still something missing. I didn't feel like I was growing. I felt like the small group life was stagnant and personally I was needing more. I had a very wise friend who had been in a similar situation advise me that I need to not quench the spirit and that I needed to be where I was growing the most. He encouraged me that God was refining me and that I needed to be submissive to his will and not mine. It was the best decision for my spiritual growth I could have ever made. I experienced God like I had never before. My today is considerable different because I listened well. 

2. Genuine Love needs a clear perspective...be humble. David took Saul's spear and water jug, he called to the king from a distance. He submitted himself and humbly asked for perspective. "What have I done?" he asked. We will never be able to love people correctly until we see them clearly, with God's eyes. I once had a bitter dispute with someone I once cared for. The dispute was over listening. I felt like he was not listening to me because he viewed me as less than and not equal to. This was the same with David and Saul. Saul let his position go to his head. He forgot God is in view of David. 

3. Genuine Love is not defensive...be patient. David knew God put him in this situation for a purpose and trusted HIM to deliver him. David offers to make a sacrifice if he has harmed Saul or done anything wrong, and he waits to hear Saul's rationale. Impatience indicates we lack trust and want our rights. David let Saul speak completely and heard him completely. Given the fact that David was appointed by God to the be the new King, had defeated Goliath, was being pursed by the current King Saul who wanted to kill him, David could have been very arrogant and impatient with new divine appointment to be King. He could have killed Saul on two separate occasions. Instead David listened to God & listened to Saul. He would get his turn, he just had to be patient. 

4. Genuine Love is powerful...be forgiving. Saul later apologizes to David and admits his wrong. He promises to go home. At the point, David sits in the driver seat; he still has Saul's spear and water jug. Be he returns them and forgives Saul of everything. Like David, we must trust God to make things right. One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life was to forgive. We often mistake our lip service of saying I forgive you to actually forgiving you. We hold unforgiveness in our hearts for long periods of time.  David had to forgive Saul completely first before he could move forward because unforgiveness would have kept him frozen where he was. 
Can you imagine having the influence to be able to remove a King? Or how about having an entire country mourn your death and show up at your funeral? Talk about a life of influence and impact. There is an incredible example of such an individual that lived a life of influence, leadership, and purpose. His name was Samuel. Samuel was so influential that the people of Israel sought his leadership and direction for their future. They needed help to retrieve the Ark of Covenant. They needed strategy against their enemy, the Philistines. They eventually sought his permission to crown a new king. His influence as a leader kept growing and growing. When King Saul failed in his leadership, Samuel removed him. Can you imagine having such influence that you alone are able to remove the reigning king! Samuel exhorted, he affirmed, he corrected, he prophesied, he reminded, and the taught the people. When he died, all of Israel gathered to mourn his loss. 

Samuel obviously lived an incredible live, and he was certainly an incredible leader. So how did Samuel live his life? What was his secret? How can we learn from Samuel to live that impacts others so dramatically?

There are four traits Samuel lived by that increased his influence, and his ability to impact. 

1. He lived a life SHEPHERDING others. Samuel was focused more on relationships than he was himself. The bible loves to describe God's leaders as shepherd. Even the LORD is described as a shepherd. A shepherd knows, loves, protects, and leads his sheep. Samuel focused his life on being a shepherd. He spoke out of relationship. He identified with the people and could be both tough and tender because of his relationships. People listened because his relationships to them. Samuel was special from his birth. He was given as an offering to God and God had a very specific plan and purpose for Samuel. Samuel was a prophet who had authority. Samuel's success as shepherd was because he spoke from the position of a shepherd and not a position of authority. The people responded this his shepherding before they responded to his authority. It was his shepherding that increased his authority. 

2. He lived a life of STEWARDSHIP. Samuel was responsible. As a steward he could be trusted to act on behalf of an owner, overseeing others and managing possessions. Stewards are accountable to the owner. Jesus taught this principle in Luke 12:42-48. Samuel lived this truth as he confronted kings and peasants, as he wept over this disobedience of Israel, and as he sought guidance for his nation. He remained faithful to his calling, accountable to God, and responsible to the people. That is why they listened to him...they trusted him. It was his stewardship that increased his trust. 

3. He lived a life as a SEER. Samuel possessed vision for the people of Israel and he communicated that vision and fresh direction often. Samuel brought the word of God to bear on contemporary issues. He spoke with divine conviction about past lessons, present situations, and future direction. The word of God was his compass...always leading in the right direction of God. Because of this, he moved from being merely a judge to becoming a prophet, speaking with skill as a visionary leader. People listen to him because of his revelation. 

Samuel was unique in that he wasn't afraid of the response to the word of God. So often we fear the response of the people to the word of God. I find this to be especially true when communicating with other "Christians." Samuel often led the people by correcting their course to realign with the word of God. To be an effective leader you can't fear biblical correction. So often we think people will think less of us because we might across a bible thumper know it all. Samuel used the word of God to create correction when it was needed to realign with God's vision for the people. As a result, the people would seek Samuel out because they trusted him as a seer to help them correct themselves. 

4. He lived a life as a SERVANT. What Samuel did was lived a life modeled after Jesus before Jesus was ever born. Samuel was a biblically informed leader who gave up his rights instead of gaining them. He often sacrificed for the good of the people he led. Samuel modeled this as he interceded for Israel, as he made sacrifices on the alter on their behalf, and as he wept for their welfare. Power did not motivate him...SERVICE did! People listen to him not because of his power, but because of his servant heart.