Leadership

Justice Is Driven Back

unsplash-starrynight_man_light_JSewell If you love the truth and value honesty, lies and injustice should prompt anger to rise up in your heart.

But if you value deception when it's expedient to your cause, whatever it might be, your heart will swell up with pride.

When truth is mocked and integrity of character is set aside, judgment is not far behind. But what, if anything, can you do about it?

Nothing new

Deception is nothing new. It's as old as...well, humanity. The first humans on earth started the ball rolling, but had some help disseminating deception.

In the Garden of Eden, he came as a clever serpent (Gen 3:1), he tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Matt 4:1-11), and Jesus called him the father of lies (John 8:44).

Deception, injustice, and evil will continue to be with us until the Lord returns and settles things His way. But how are we who trust in the Lord to deal with blatant deception and injustice?

[bctt tweet="How should we deal with blatant deception and injustice?" username="tkbeyond"]

It's a challenge to live our daily lives, raise a family, and live a life of integrity when deception and injustice seem to prevail. How do we respond when leaders prove to be untrustworthy?

After the justifiable anger rises up and before it boils over, we need to consider how to respond in both wise and practical ways.

The dilemma

Moral and ethical darkness are not new in the world. Corruption, injustice, and oppression by governments is common throughout history.

This doesn't mean we just tolerate it or dismiss it. The gravitational pull created by the black hole of corrupt and oppressive leaders suck life and hope out of people's lives. Both the innocent and the righteous are impacted.

When Israel was plunged into moral and spiritual darkness by their own unfaithfulness, God rebuked them—

Justice is driven back; godliness stands far off. Indeed, honesty stumbles in the city square and morality is not even able to enter.

Honesty has disappeared; the one who tries to avoid evil is robbed.

The Lord watches and is displeased, for there is no justice. (Isaiah 59:14-15)

The inevitable question comes, "Why doesn't God do something about it? Doesn't He care?!"

God does care! He has intervened over the centuries and personally intervened when He came as the Word of God in human form (John 1:1, 14).

[bctt tweet="God cared & intervened to help His people many times, even in person through His Son" username="tkbeyond"]

A resolution

What are we to do? Is there something we can do? There is.

He sees that there’s no one to help. He’s astounded that there’s no one to intercede. [italics mine]
So with his own power he wins a victory. His righteousness supports him. (Isaiah 59:16)

The prophet declares that God is astonished no one is interceding on behalf of Israel in their moral and spiritual darkness.

The dictionary describes an intercessor as someone who steps in on behalf of another to plead for them. Who was God expecting to intercede? The spiritual leaders of Israel.

Prayer is not a last resort, but our first and best action.

[bctt tweet=" Prayer is not a last resort, but our first and best action" username="tkbeyond"]

Intercessory prayer may seem passive, even weak, but it's far from that. Jesus is often shown praying before significant events throughout the gospel narratives. Intercession was vital and key to the church's survival and growth in the book of Acts.

Standing in the gap

God's concern for an intercessor is echoed by the prophet Ezekiel—

So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. (Ezek 22:30 NKJV)

Where are the intercessors now? Nations all over the world are in turmoil and need intercessors—people who will "stand in the gap" and plead for their nation and people.

[bctt tweet="Where are the intercessors who will stand in the gap for their nation?" username="tkbeyond"]

Intercession requires commitment and consistent faithfulness when others give up in the face of adversity, and when it seems nothing is changing for the good.

Standing firm

When God saw no one who interceded for the nation, He stepped up to do so—

He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak. (Isaiah 59:17)

The figurative phrases in this text are similar to what the apostle Paul said to believers facing the oppressive Roman Empire—

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph 6:13)

The larger context of this verse describes this armor of God in detail, with the list concluding with prayer, intercessory prayer (Eph 6:10-18).

This is what we can do, and how we are to respond when deception, evil, and darkness seem to prevail. Even if you're not a recognized leader, you can lead as an intercessor.

[bctt tweet="If you want to stand firm in hard times, prayer is vital, including intercessory prayer" username="tkbeyond"]

Doers, not just hearers

Jesus said those who hear His words and put them into practice will stand firm, like a house built on a rock (Matt 7:24-27).

No human leader can solve the world's woes. Clamoring for justice won't bring resolve. Putting hope in such things is like building a house on the sand. When storms come—and they will—these hopes will crumble.

When the world tumbles with turmoil and what once seemed secure is shaken, we need a solid foundation to stand firm in the midst of it all.

Knowing the truth isn't enough. Each believer needs to be a doer, not just a hearer of truth (John 13:17; James 1:22).

[bctt tweet="Knowing the truth isn't enough—we need to be doers, not just hearers of truth" username="tkbeyond"]

We need to engage in a wise and practical way. God's choice and direction is intercession, not mere protest, and certainly not empty rhetoric.

We need to live out the truth day-to-day, even when others around us abandon it.

We need to appeal to the One who alone is able and who will bring true justice and righteousness.


How will you respond when truth is mocked and integrity is shunned?


If this post is of value and encouragement to you—please share it with others... thanks!

3 Simple Observations and Truths

unsplash-stainglass_maninpew_KFredrickson-compressor Something was missing. At first, I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew a significant shift took place in the fifteen years I lived overseas.

It wasn't one specific thing, but an accumulative process that brought this shift. "What happened," I wondered?

It wasn't so much what happened as what didn't happen.

Something missing

My first indicator was the general biblical ignorance that existed.

This was puzzling. More biblical teaching was available, in more ways, than when I moved overseas (1990).

Resources for biblical studies had multiplied, through books, audio, video, and online products. There was plenty to choose from and the consumer-oriented American Christian wanted more of it.

But with all that was available, something was missing.

[bctt tweet="A general biblical ignorance exists and it's not for lack of resources" username="tkbeyond"]

Was it community? Or leadership? Or commitment? Yes to all the above and more. But why?

A pattern

It finally dawned on me that what was common in the '70's and 80's was lacking in the new millennium.

Intentional, relational discipleship was a primary element of the Jesus People Movement of the late '60's into the '70's. It was a natural, organic if you will, element embedded by God.

It didn't just happen by itself, but it wasn't a well-outlined curriculum or program. That came later.

[bctt tweet="Intentional, relational discipleship was a primary element of the Jesus People Movement" username="tkbeyond"]

This seems to be a pattern with us humans.

God does something sovereign and dynamic, then we try to systematize it. We try to codify and quantify it—axioms, rules, and numbers—in order to replicate it. In doing this, we end up stifling whatever God did or is doing.

The process of replication needs to reproduce disciple-makers, not a program.

The human-effect turns a movement of God into an institution. We try to organize the spiritual dynamic or life of the movement, which quenches the river of life God sets in motion, by attempting to channel or contain it.

“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." (Jeremiah 2:13 NIV)

Not a spiritual growth program

Discipleship is not a spiritual growth program. It's not a follow-up or aftercare program for those who've said the sinner's prayer.

Discipleship is the natural progression of evangelism. They aren't synonymous, but they aren't separate either. Robert Coleman's classic book, Master Plan of Evangelism, makes this clear.

[bctt tweet="Discipleship ought to be the natural progression of evangelism" username="tkbeyond"]

This isn't rocket science, as they say. A person doesn't need a degree nor professional training to be a disciple-maker. Nor does a disciple-maker need a title or official role.

Yes, a disciple-maker needs to be grounded in the truth of God's Word and led by God's Spirit, but they don't need a certificate to make them an authorized disciple-maker.

[bctt tweet="Discipleship is not a spiritual growth program" username="tkbeyond"]

3 simple observations

  1. Discipleship is not a cognitive skill to be learned or taught—it's a way of life.
  2. Discipleship is a life with purpose—that purpose is revealed as the person is discipled.
  3. Discipleship requires some type of challenge to pursue the goal—the goal is following Jesus and being transformed by the Holy Spirit.

3 simple truths

  1. The Lord Jesus saw discipleship as an intentional, relational process. It's not a phase, but an integrated whole. Discipleship is following Jesus with a community of believers—Matt 16:24; John 8:31-32; Acts 2:42-47.
  2. Discipleship is the pastoral responsibility of the church. Not the institution or corporation, but the community of believers under the Lordship of Jesus and led by the Holy Spirit. This is made clear in Ezekiel 34:1-24, and by Jesus in John 10:7-16.
  3. Discipleship is the community-based process of sanctification. This is shared pastoral care among a community of believers. It's not relegated to one leader or a select group of leaders, although leadership is important. It is a shared commitment of each believer to one another—John 8:34-36; Acts 4:32-35; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.

[bctt tweet="Discipleship is following Jesus with a community of believers" username="tkbeyond"]

This is not all that can be said about the subject, far from it!

Do you need more insight on any of the 3 observations or truth above? Let me know!

But, it's my hope these simple, brief observations and truths help confirm whatever God may be stirring in your own heart.

So... What is God stirring in your heart about discipleship and following Jesus?

Let me know, and thanks for reading and sharing this post!

How I Got Theology– Part 2

Photo credit: unsplash.com_JErondu Leadership is often described as influence. Several heavyweight leaders say these terms are interchangeable. I don't see it that way.

Yes, leaders can be quite influential in both good and bad ways, but this is not a given. I've seen people in leadership roles with little to no influence. The net effect of their leadership is nil.

On the other hand, I've known and witnessed influential leaders who've had great impact.

Leadership and influence

I ran across an excellent article on the difference between influence and leadership by Steve Graves. He makes a good case for the distinction between leadership and influence.

[bctt tweet="There is a distinction between leadership and influence" username="tkbeyond"]

Plenty of people have been good leaders with good influence, such as, Abraham Lincoln, Florence Nightingale, and Billy Graham.

Leaders with evil influence? Sadly, it's not a short list, but men like Adolph Hitler come to mind.

Then there are many leaders who have a somewhat sketchy influence. A cursory look at political personalities could produce a lengthy list.

What about spiritual leaders where character and integrity are essential? Among them we can find good, bad, and even sketchy examples.

[bctt tweet="Spiritual leaders can have good, bad or sketchy influence in people's lives" username="tkbeyond"]

Another question

Last week, I answered the first of three questions I posed in a challenge in a previous post.

This week I want to look at the second question and give my personal answer. Here's the question—

Who is the most influential spiritual leader in your life, so far? Why?

Three leaders were influential in the early development of my spiritual life and theology.

Two are now with the Lord, but their leadership and influence are still embedded in my life. One is my age, alive, and still influencing others for good as a leader.

[bctt tweet="Who is the most influential spiritual leader in your life and in what way?" username="tkbeyond"]

My first pastor

I came to faith during the Jesus People Movement of the late '60's and early '70's. I mentioned some of this in last week's post.

Ironically, the church I was thrown out of for asking the wrong question is where I got grounded in the truth of God's Word. It's also where I began serving the Lord in full-time ministry under my first pastor, Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.

It was under him that I developed an appreciation for the grace of God and studying God's Word. Pastor Chuck was known for these two distinct things, not only in my life, but for thousands of others.

Both the grace of God and God's Word became foundational in my spiritual growth and my theology through his ministry. He was a living example of their importance and value, and a strong pastoral leader with great, enduring influence. Chuck went to be with His Lord in October of 2013.

[bctt tweet="God's grace and Word were foundational in my spiritual growth and theology" username="tkbeyond"]

A sage and a mentor

As my wife and I grew in our spiritual lives, we became more involved at the ground level of ministry while serving at a church and retreat center near Desert Hot Springs, CA.

When we arrived in 1973, it was a small church and retreat ministry in a sparsely settled area of the low desert of southern California. Susan and I learned so much about serving in every way imaginable.

Although it was remote, many significant spiritual leaders of the 1970's visited this little spiritual oasis. One of them was Rev PHP Gutteridge, known to us as "Percy". He was much older than us and also much wiser, a true sage.

Percy's teaching had spiritual depth and often centered on the cross of Christ, and the need for Christian believers to walk the way of the cross. Originally from England, he pastored this church in its infancy. In our time there, he visited on a regular basis, especially when we held large holiday retreats.

After I planted a church in 1978, he would come to preach to our little growing congregation in the upper desert area of Yucca Valley, CA. When he died in October of 1998, we were missionaries in the Philippines.

His life and ministry continue to influence us both to this day. Percy stirred my heart to further plumb the depths of the Scriptures and the essential simplicity of the way of the cross (Matt 16:24).

[bctt tweet="I was stirred to plumb the depths of the Scriptures and the way of the cross" username="tkbeyond"]

My friend and mentor

My involvement in ministry at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa came at the invitation of a young man my age, but with much greater experience.

Bruce's wife, Joni, was pregnant and found it difficult to hold her guitar to lead praise for children's church. I and a couple others jumped in to help and this began a long term friendship in ministry.

Bruce opened the door for me to serve in many ways. When he and his young family moved out to the church and retreat ministry I mentioned earlier, we joined them and the ministry about a year later. We served their for five years, and it was of great value in so many ways.

Through Bruce's pastoral guidance, I learned how to preach, teach, counsel and lead as an assistant pastor. This was the foundation for my stepping out to plant a church and to develop a Bible College in the Philippines. It was practical, hands-on training.

[bctt tweet="I received practical, hands-on training that became a foundation for pastoral ministry" username="tkbeyond"]

But he was more than a pastoral mentor to me, he was a true friend. Bruce has a clear grasp on the immense, far-reaching love of God, which was infectious. His influence continues to reach around the world in a ministry he founded while pastoring in southern California—He Intends Victory.

Who for you?

So, now that you know who were important spiritual influences in my life and theology, how about you?

Who is the most influential spiritual leader in your life, so far?

And what is their influence in your life?

4 Elements of Leading Well

Photo credit: unsplash.com_BWschodni Is leadership just influence? I'd say it's a lot more, but certainly includes influence. The question is, what kind of influence does a leader have?

Some leaders are authoritarian, almost tyrannical in their style and influence, while others use a mentor or guru approach.

True leadership is more than a style or approach. True leaders lead the way for others with confidence, and people follow them.

Example is essential

This is the third post related to grassroots leadership where we've looked at three words—love, feed, and lead. As with the other two posts, I'll use the four letters of lead as an acrostic—L-E-A-D.

What can be said about leading? A lot! And a lot's been written and spoken about how to lead.

Our prime model for leadership in ministry is Jesus. He's the example for all believers wherever they may lead. How did Jesus lead? He led with authority and humility, as noted in earlier posts, and used various means to prepare His followers for leadership.

A major part of Jesus' leadership was His example, not just as a sinless human but as a genuine one, and a Son who followed His Father (John 4:34; 5:19). This is important to note. We need to be lead-able our selves to be good leaders of others.

Our own life example is essential for leading as Jesus led others.

[bctt tweet="We need to be lead-able our selves to be good leaders of others"]

4 Elements of leading well

L– Listen and Learn

Listening and hearing well is somewhat of a lost art. We all want to be listened to, but how good are we at listening to others? This is a vital part of good leadership. Leaders need to listen, and they need to hear what's being said.

A missionary friend of mine pointed out how Jesus listened, even asked questions, as a young man (Luke 2:46). Reading through all four gospels this is still seen in Him, especially His dialogs with people. He was observant and heard what His followers talked about, and even asked them questions (Mark 9:33-37; Matt 16:13-15).

Jesus didn't listen to look for a place to jump in with what He wanted to say, He listened then responded. If you're a leader, are you able to listen to others and hear what they have to say? If not, why should anyone listen to you?

I've learned a lot by listening to others, some of it good and some not so good. I try to hear their heart, as well as their words. I also try to pay attention to what's not being said, as this can reveal much.

One more thought on all this. A good leader keeps learning from others. This is a sign of humility and openness, and the people you lead will see this and be more willing to follow you.

[bctt tweet="A vital part of good leadership is the ability to listen and hear well"]

E– Educate and Equip

Education is often reduced to teaching and transferring knowledge. But a good education needs to be practical, useful for life. An academic education won't prepare God's people to serve in the church.

God gave leaders to the church to equip them for service (Eph 4:11-16). I spoke about this some last week when we looked at the word feed.

Look at how Jesus equipped His followers, those who were chosen as apostles, and those who chose to be His disciples. Yes, He taught them as spoke to the crowds, but he also revealed things to them that weren't shared publicly ( Matt 13:10-17).

Those who followed Jesus learned by watching Him, hearing Him, and being with Him. They watched, they learned, then they were given the opportunity to do.

Perhaps you're familiar with Jesus sending out the twelve, found in Matthew 10 and Luke 9. Later, Jesus sends out others who followed Him, who were not His chosen apostles (Luke 10:1-3).

Teaching and training needs to be useful and productive, otherwise it's just knowledge. Nowadays we can get that on the internet. We need to educate people for a specific purpose or purposes.

A simple question for any leader is—Are we talking about truth or equipping people in the truth?

[bctt tweet="Are we talking about truth or equipping people in the truth?"]

A– Accept and Acknowledge

I've served in many different ministries over the past four decades or so, often at the bottom of the "food-chain," as some of my friends say. You name it, I've probably done it, from cleaning toilets to running a backhoe. But my wife and I have also been in leadership roles.

Because of our own experience, we learned to accept people as they are, not how we think they should be. Not everyone can do everything.

We've had staff who didn't do well in certain things, but excelled in others. This taught us to find the right place for each person within the ministry.

When a specific role needs to be filled, it's important to find the right person. Otherwise, they will be frustrated and we (their leaders) will be also. We need to accept people for who they are, and not have unrealistic or unreasonable expectations of them.

When people feel valued, they do their work better and they're a lot happier doing it. They need to be acknowledged, noticed, appreciated. This is especially true for those who serve in a volunteer capacity.

I think we all want to hear the Lord say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." (Matt 25:21)

[bctt tweet="We need to accept people without unrealistic or unreasonable expectations"]

D– Disciple and Delegate

Last week, we looked at discipleship, but here I'd like to see how it benefits the Kingdom of God as a whole. Discipleship isn't just about knowing doctrine and how to live it out, it has a purpose. Yes, a good disciple is a disciple-maker, but there's still more to it.

Jesus knew He was preparing the apostles to lead and establish the church, the Kingdom of God on earth. Discipleship should involve doing. Yes, it's good to do life together, but it's important to have shared experiences.

By shared I mean a mutual participation, on equal footing. How? Prayer, worship, serving others or any activity where the leader isn't in charge of the disciple. This helps create a shared trust of one another.

Delegation works best when trust exists. Genuine discipleship sets the stage for reliable delegation. Delegation isn't just dishing out responsibility for a task.

You come to trust those you disciple, and they trust you. When trust exists, it's a lot easier to delegate a task or responsibility with confidence that it will be done well.

Early on in the Lord's training of His followers, He sends them out to do what they've seen Him do (Luke 9:1-6). He delegates ministry to them. He entrusted His authority to them along with responsibility.

Jesus shows us how discipleship done well leads to fruitful delegation. It includes authority with responsibility because of mutual trust.

[bctt tweet="Genuine discipleship sets the stage for reliable delegation"]

Love, feed, lead

This is the last of four posts, three that looked at three primary elements of leading as Jesus led, based on His role as the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18).

If these posts blessed you, please share them with others. My hope is that they're helpful for any leader within the Kingdom of God, whether you lead in a church or ministry, or lead in some other capacity.

Here are the other posts from first to last—

Grassroots Leadership

How Do You Spell Love? L-O-V-E

Well Fed

Well Fed

Photo credit: babycentre.co.uk Feeding a baby or toddler can be a challenge. They still need to be fed much of the time, but their self-will is in full-bloom.

They can close their mouth and refuse to eat. They're often distracted by more interesting things. Most young toddlers want to feed themselves, even though they haven't developed the dexterity to do it well.

It can be a challenging and messy process, and it's only the beginning. Children are often finicky and picky eaters, and hormonally challenged teens have odd eating habits.

Pastors and leaders also face challenges in feeding their flock. It can even get messy at times.

Last week, We looked at leading with unselfish love, as we see in Jesus, our Good Shepherd. This week we'll look at the second of the three words related to what I call grassroots leadershipfeed. Again, We'll look at this word as an acrostic—F-E-E-D.

Keeping God's people well-fed

Just opening up the Bible and letting-it-rip (preach) isn't going to keep the people of God well-fed. There's more to it than that.

It's not just about preparation and presentation, although they're important. Certain priorities impact our preparation of any ministry with God's Word and however we present it.

Let's look at four important priorities needed to keep God's people, His sheep, or anyone we lead or disciple, well-fed.

"F" stands for focus

What's the number one priority? Focus. Our focus always needs to be on Jesus in whatever ministry we do, and whatever capacity we lead (as a believer).

How do we do this? First, each leader needs to be focused on Jesus, not the people we lead, nor on any ministry task. He is our Good Shepherd and we are His under-shepherds.

All ministry, even teaching in whatever form, is relational. It always needs to be connected to our relationship with Jesus.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me" (John 10:14 NIV)

Our ministry and leadership also need to point to Jesus, in all we do. We are to follow His example, so others will follow our example of following Him.

[bctt tweet="Our ministry and leadership need to point to Jesus in all we do"]

"E" speaks of the need to examine God's Word

If we want to feed people with the truth, we need to understand it. We need to examine it well before we teach, preach, or share it in some other way.

We need to be clear on what the priority of God's Word is. Would you be surprised if I told you it's Jesus? It is!

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.... (John 5:39 NIV)

Many different methods are used for studying the Scriptures. I've used the inductive study process for the past thirty years. It is a simple, systematic, and self-contained approach to Bible study, which is why it works well in any place in the world, within any culture or language.

Whatever method you use, be diligent in it. Keep examining the Scriptures so that your understanding moves from your mind to your heart. Then it will flow out of you in a natural way in whatever setting or circumstance you share the truth.

[bctt tweet="We need to be clear on what the priority of God's Word is—it's Jesus!"]

"E" also reminds of the need to explain well

Thankfully, I learned early in my call to ministry the value of teaching the truth in a simple way. My general premise is this—if a child can understand and grasp what you teach, then you can teach it to anyone. This is an oversimplification but it's essentially true. If you can explain the truth to a child, you can explain it to anyone.

How can people feed on the truth of God if they don't understand it? This is obvious, but I find many preachers, teachers, bloggers, and others don't always make things simple for the average hearer.

Here are two simple ways to make God's Word hear-able and easy to grasp. First, use stories and parables, but learn to tell them rather than just read them. The second way to make things simple works with stories—put the truth in your own words (IYOW). Telling stories and parables IYOW helps people connect well with the truth.

Sound heretical? Not hardly. Remember, the original version of the Bible was oral, not written. The process of putting things IYOW requires processing the truth. It takes some practice, but it's very doable, and makes the truth more understandable.

[bctt tweet="If you can explain the truth to a child, you can explain it to anyone"]

"D" is for disciple

The Lord Jesus said we are to "make disciples... teaching them...."  (Matt 28:19, 20). This was not a suggestion but a command. It's called the Great Commission.

Discipleship has become more popular over the past several years. Of course, as with other things, several approaches and methods are used, but discipleship isn't just teaching and training.

Discipleship needs to be intentional and relational, a pouring into the life of others what God has poured into you.

Feeding God's people needs to go further than dispensing biblical knowledge. Lecture style teaching may be the most common form of Bible teaching, but it's the least effective. It's unidirectional and can be dull and difficult to understand for many people.

Like feeding a toddler, you can try pushing the food into their mouth, but they can close their mouth or spit it out. Also, there's a big difference between feeding people and equipping them to feed themselves.

Jesus, as always, is our example. His primary method for establishing the church was to disciple twelve men. This included teaching, but much, much more. Eleven of those twelve, and thousands who followed them, were well-fed. They continued what Jesus began with them.


Here are some related posts related you might find helpful—

How Did Jesus Teach?

Discipleship—How Did Jesus Do It?

Lasting Fruit

Here are a couple of links of people I trust regarding inductive Bible study (aka IBS)—

Dan Finfrock

Jeremy Brummel

If you'd like a copy of the workbook I've developed for IBS, contact me and I'll let you know how you can get one.

How Do You Spell Love? L-O-V-E

Photo credit: NASA As the song goes, "Love makes the world go 'round." But does it? Really? You wouldn't know that from reading and hearing the news headlines.

Then the question is, if love were to make the world go around, what kind of love is it? Is it romantic love like the song, "The Power of Love"? I think it would need to be something more substantial than that to keep the world turning on its axis.

Who comes to mind when you think of a more substantial love? Maybe Mother Teresa? Perhaps St Francis of Assisi, as reflected in his prayer?

But who was their role model? Jesus, of course. He is the personification of love, literally (John 1:1, 14; 3:16; 1 John 4:8).

Love, feed, lead

Last week, I talked about grassroots leadership as an illustration of the style of leadership we see in Jesus.

I also spoke of three words that summarize the role of a pastor, but which also apply to truly great leadership at all levels.

Those three words are—love, feed, and lead. I want to focus on love in this post, and I want to use the four letters of this word as an acrostic.

L-O-V-E

A lot's been said about this short, four-lettered word, but I want to look at each letter as it represents the leadership of Jesus.

This applies especially for pastors and others in a leadership role within the church, but I also see it as representative for believers who are leaders in other arenas in life.

What are those other arenas? Anything from business (small or large) to military leaders, and even less formal roles within life, even parenting.

L–

I originally saw the words love, feed, and lead based in John 10:1-18, where Jesus speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd.

Jesus expresses what He means by being the Good Shepherd in verse 11—

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Of course, most believers think Jesus refers to His sacrificial death on the cross. But there's more to it than that.

The most basic call of discipleship, in Matthew 16:24, makes it clear that we are to die to our self if we would follow Jesus.

Jesus extends this idea to leadership when He tells the disciples—

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)

"L" stands for love. Love is the mark of a great leader in God's kingdom—someone who is willing to lay down their life for another, and for Jesus.

[bctt tweet="Love is the mark of a great leader in God's kingdom"]

O–

The love of God is spelled out for us in the well-known text of 1 Corinthians 13. It's also the natural product of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22, 23).

It's also seen in the way Jesus called, led, and trained His followers. It wasn't by compelling them, but with humble leadership.

The apostle Peter learned this the hard way when Jesus restored him, after Peter had denied the Lord three times. We see this in John 21:15-19.

Peter passed this on to those he discipled as leaders. He exhorted them to "shepherd the flock of God..., not domineering over [them]..., but being examples to the flock." This is found in 1 Peter 5:1-5.

So the "O" stands for oversee. Godly leaders are not to be overbearing or domineering as lords, but caring for people as Jesus, the Good Shepherd, did.

[bctt tweet="Godly leaders are not to be overbearing or domineering as lords"]

V–

When a godly leader understands their power or authority is based in an unselfish love and oversight like that of Jesus, they value people.

Over the years, many churches have undervalued people, especially their volunteers and part-time staff. They undervalue them by taking them for granted.

Too often I've heard of people who get burned out serving in a church or ministry, and are left hanging in the wind, as others take their place. This should not be. Nor should this need to be explained.

We need to see people the way Jesus saw them, as sheep who need a shepherd (Matt 9:36).  This is the heart of Jesus, hear what He says—

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

"V" is for value. Any smart leader at any level, but especially godly ones, will value people, especially those who volunteer their services.

[bctt tweet="Many churches have undervalued people by taking them for granted"]

E–

One of the simple ways to value people is by empowering and enabling them to do what they are to do. Many in roles of leadership think they need to keep people under control, but this is not how we see Jesus leading people.

This brings us back to the earlier nature of the love we are to have as we lead people, a love that lays itself down for others.

Do we want others who serve under our leadership to succeed? Do we want them to do well? Then we need to find ways to empower and enable them to do so.

This is to be a basic role of all leadership in the church, and it makes sense for any role of leadership. The apostle Paul tells us that God gave gifts so the leaders could empower and enable those they lead.

This is what we're told in Ephesians 4:11-13, and the result is enormous and beneficial to all, including God. As it says in verse 11—

to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

"E" reminds us that good, godly leaders empower and enable people.

[bctt tweet="A simple way to value people is by empowering and enabling them to do things well"]

L-O-V-E—love that is unselfish, overseeing not overbearing, valuing people, and empowering and enabling them. That's how I spell love every godly leader needs to lead others. Just as Jesus did.


Next week I'll take a look at the word "feed" as I see it in relation to leading people.

If this post is worthwhile, please share it with others. Thanks for reading!

 

Grassroots Leadership

unsplash_path_thru_grass This year's presidential political campaign has surprised many who follow it. It's even made Black Friday look pale by comparison.

One political party has too many candidates, while the other has few. One grabs headlines, the other spawns yawns. What's happening?

You could tag it with various labels, including the old standbys of populism and grassroots politics. I think it's just one more indicator of what's needed in the world, let alone America.

People need leaders

A good friend told me long ago, "People need leaders." I was a young pastor and he was a young captain of fire fighters.

What he said rang true in my heart. It reminded me of my responsibility in God's kingdom. Not just as a pastor, but as a follower of Jesus.

One seemingly forgotten characteristic of the Jesus People Movement was the importance of life example in leadership.

[bctt tweet="Life example is important for leadership in God's kingdom"]

I'm concerned this is a neglected emphasis today in all aspects of leadership, but especially in God's kingdom.

Grassroots leadership

Look at the leadership of Jesus and what He endeavored to instill in His followers. What was the key?

People were drawn to Him in a natural way. From the first to the last, people saw Him, heard Him, and could not ignore Him.

[bctt tweet="People saw Jesus, and heard Him, but could not ignore Him"]

Even those who opposed Him and later plotted to kill Him, even they couldn't ignore Him.

So what was it about Jesus that drew people to Him? You could call it grassroots leadership.

Humble leadership

There was no fanfare, no clever strategy to draw more people.

This is so backwards to what's most popular today, the prevailing mantra—more is better.

But that's not the way of Jesus. It's also not the way of great leadership, according to Jim Collins in his book, From Good to Great.

What set apart the companies that rose to greatness? One essential was humble leadership.

[bctt tweet="Humility is essential for great leadership and to lead like Jesus"]

In a business model, this means putting the company and your people above your self.

Jesus the Good Shepherd

In God's kingdom, it means following the example of Jesus. It's seen throughout the gospels, but illustrated and explained in John 10 where Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd.

I am the good shepherd.

The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

Several years ago, I was asked what the basics were to pastoring. A young missionary pastor to Thailand to whom I'm a mentor, asked me for a simple explanation.

I came up with three words to summarize the responsibilities of a pastor—love, feed, and lead—based on John 10:1-18.

[bctt tweet="3 words can summarize the responsibilities of a pastor—love, feed, and lead"]

Over the next few weeks I hope to unpack these three words related to the leadership of Jesus.

Hopefully, we'll see how they can apply to leadership at any level.

 

Risking Community to the Next Generation

Photo credit: unsplash.com_lukepamer I've found a kindred spirit in Pastor Ed Underwood. Ed is pastor of the historic Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles, CA.

We are both products of the Jesus People Movement of the early 1970's, fans of the LA Dodgers and the USC Trojans, and grandparents.

We're ministry veterans (old guys) who want to see a fresh revival in the church, and are committed to intentional, relational discipleship to equip and raise up the next generation of leaders. Here's Ed's post

Sooner or later, the ones who always get things done in a local church, the ones who make the key decisions, they will die.

It’s a one-to-one ratio. Everyone in our faith communities will die–pastors, elders, deacons, volunteers, teachers, and everyday serious disciples of Christ–every one of us will die.

A sad reality? Yes. But it doesn’t have to be a desperate problem.

Unless the ones who are closest to the end refuse to risk what Jesus risked: Handing off his community to the next generation.

[bctt tweet="We need to risk what Jesus risked: Handing off his community to the next generation. @EdUnderwood" via="no"]

Jesus’ community is the church. Notice that he didn’t choose one person over forty to birth his church.

Notice also that Jesus’ devoted followers, the Apostles, were constantly building into the next generation. Peter took John Mark under wing, Paul had his Timothy and Titus.

But all the teaching, equipping and modeling is lost if those of us who are on in years refuse to pass through the threshold of trust.

The Threshold

The day will come when we not only speak truth into the next generation, train the next generation, equip the next generation, and encourage the next generation, but we also hand off to them. Until we trust the next generation to do what we’ve been doing all of our talk about loving community and caring about the future of the work of God is just that.

Talk

Because we’ve stepped back from the real test of trusting God’s Spirit at work in the next generation.

Trust

Until we actually give them voice, space, and ownership, we’re just one more bunch of old Christians clinging to the inertia of institutionalized church.

And we’re the ones who lose, because if we’ve done what Jesus asked us to do–make disciples–we’re missing the greatest earthly joy of community: watching the next generation’s giftedness glorify our Lord.

The Payoff

Last weekend we risked our beloved community, Church of the Open Door, to the next generation.

When I first proposed this radical idea to hand off responsibility for our 100th Centennial Celebration to the next generation there were a few raised eyebrows. I mean this was a big deal. What if they blow it? What if it doesn’t work out? What if? What if? What if?

If you’re reading this and you’re over forty you need to know that you’ll never run out of “what ifs.”

I have some better what ifs:

What if they have creative ideas we would never imagine?

What if they could energize a demographic we’ve lost touch with?

What if they, not us, are on the cutting edge of what the Holy Spirit’s doing in this world?

A tent, family, and hashtags

We risked it.

And rather than blowing it the next generation of Church of the Open Door blew our minds.

With creativity.

With energy.

With a front row seat to the power of the Spirit in their lives.

They wanted informal, not formal. They wanted family friendly, not program driven. They wanted it outside under a tent, not in the worship center. They wanted to build a memory for their children. And they wanted a hashtag rather than a videographer and a memorial magazine.

Wow!

I still can’t figure out how to use the #cod100th hashtag, but every time someone under thirty shows me how I can’t believe how spectacular our 100th Anniversary was.

It seems Church of the Open Door’s future is in good hands.


 

I read Ed's book, Reborn to Be Wild: Reviving Our Radical Pursuit of Jesus, and realized we were kindred spirits. We have similar passions! We want to pass on to the next generation all that Jesus has poured into us.

I hope you'll visit his site where you'll find more great posts and some great resources. Here's the link to the original post on Ed's site— Risking Community to the Next Generation

Ed is featuring one of my recent posts, so check it out at— EdUnderwood.com

Training Up a Timothy

Photo credit: Lightstock.com Some people speak of getting back to what the first church experienced. I think most of that talk is idyllic nostalgia. It's not based in reality, nor is it biblically sound.

I learned long ago, you can't go back to what was once before. Think of all those time-travel stories. It never works out well, things are always different. It's also not how God chooses to move by His Spirit. God desires to do something new, not remade or revisited.

But there is one thing we can go back to—the example of Jesus. After all, He is our prime example. On the night He was betrayed, He gave us a valuable example of His leadership style, and made it clear we are to follow this example.

More than washing feet

The story of Jesus washing the feet of His followers is full of great truths to teach. It is not just about washing one another's feet, although foot-washing services can be meaningful.

The primary focus of this story, in John 13:1-17, is the Lord's example of servant-leadership. It was a role He demonstrated throughout His life and public ministry, but this was not discerned too well by His disciples (Luke 22:24-27).

If you want to raise up a Timothy, a son or daughter in the faith, it should not be based on a pattern or curriculum or theological theory. It needs to be based on the example of Jesus.

He poured Himself into twelve men whom He chose as His foundation for the church. One would betray Him. All would deny Him, until they were empowered with the Spirit of God, after Jesus' resurrection.

Servant-Leadership as seen in John 13:1-17

Here are five characteristics and ways a true servant-leader leads. These are qualities and roles of leadership seen in Jesus. In John 13, as He washes the disciples feet, we see His example of confident, yet humble leadership.

This is our model. This is our only pattern, not clever leadership strategies designed by men.

Last week I posed a question—Pastor, where's your Timothy? This is a simple answer to that question.

Know the Way (v 1, 3)

We see the Lord’s confidence in knowing who He was as God’s Son, where He came from, and where He was going. Our confidence is not to be in ourselves, nor our abilities. Our confidence is based on the Lord and who He has called us to be in our relationship with Him.

Knowing the way for us is to deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Jesus (Mt 16:24), and be guided by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:14). This is how we are to live and lead until we see Jesus face to face.

[bctt tweet="Our confidence is not to be in ourselves or abilities, but in the Lord"]

Walk the Way (v 4-5)

By far, the most common and important element of true servant-leadership is being a living example. This, of course, is the picture we have of Jesus as He washes the disciples feet.

This is not unusual, but seen throughout Jesus' leadership and training of the disciples. Example was always an essential element of His leadership.

[bctt tweet="Example was an essential element of Jesus' leadership"]

Show the Way (v 6-13)

This is simply an extension of walking the way, but moves beyond example to helping others see or know the way. How? By teaching and training in a personal and relational manner.

We see this in the dialog between Jesus and Peter, and in His instruction to all the disciples. This is not classroom or pulpit teaching, but a process of relational discipleship.

[bctt tweet="Genuine discipleship involves teaching and training in a personal, relational manner"]

Make a way (v 14-15)

An important part of leadership is training up new leaders. Again, it is not a program, but an intentional and relational process of discipleship. Discipleship done well naturally produces leaders.

The responsibility of leaders and mentors is to make a way for others to step up into leadership roles. It is often a matter of creating opportunities for others to move forward.

[bctt tweet="Discipleship done well naturally produces leaders, so make a way for them"]

Step away (v 16-17)

One of the more difficult roles of leadership is knowing when it’s time to move on or get out of the way. It's usually a matter of timing, but also the way in which a leader steps away.

Again, we look to Jesus as our prime example, but other examples are Barnabas (Acts 11:24-26), and Paul in the pastoral epistles. It requires self-denial on the leader’s part.

[bctt tweet="Knowing when to step back for other leaders to step up requires self-denial"]

The essential element

The essential element of servant-leadership is humility. This is the nature of our Lord Jesus (Matt 11:29; Phil 2:5-8), and it is essential for any leader to lead as Jesus did. Humility is important for mentoring others.

If you look closely at the life of Paul the apostle, you will see it, and Peter reminds all elders and young leaders of this too (1 Pet 5:5).

If you want to raise up a Timothy, someone who is able to lead others beyond your leadership, then know the way, walk the way, show the way, make a way, then step away.

Are you committed to intentional, relational discipleship? Are you ready to mentor someone? If so, follow the lead of Jesus.


This post is a follow-up to last week's post— Pastor, Where's Your Timothy?

Pastor, Where's Your Timothy?

Photo credit: lightstock.com_pearl Mentoring is a hot topic these days. Access to information, even for repairs and DIY projects, is unprecedented through the world-wide web. A whole new industry emerged over the past decade—online entrepreneurship. It's spawned a new generation of experts.

A new wave of experts has rippled through the church, as well. New, trendy, cutting edge churches are launched every week, at least it seems so. Notice I said launched, not planted. But something is missing.

The need for mentoring is great in the church, but for more reasons than you might think.

Experience needed

The older generation in churches are a valuable part of the church. They provide stability and commitment, and are often the most consistent and generous givers. But many with gray hair have more to offer than consistent giving and commitment.

They have experience, and that experience is valuable and needed.

Older pastors and leaders can be valuable mentors for young leaders and potential leaders. They are a living resource for the church. And what do young leaders lack? Experience!

[bctt tweet="Young leaders lack experience and need mentors"]

Responsibility of the church

Discipleship is more than a buzzword, as is the idea of being missional. I've heard many pastors and leaders speak on equipping the church, but I don't see it happening enough.

Oh sure, Bible colleges, seminaries, and other ministry training options exist, even discipleship curriculum. But the church lacks well-equipped leaders ready to lead the church into the next decade or two.

Equipping does not take place through teaching or training programs. None of those existed for the early church.

[bctt tweet="Equipping leaders doesn't just take place through teaching or training programs"]

What did they have? Leaders who discipled in simple ways. Their goal was to personally transfer their own relationship and experience with Jesus to others (2 Timothy 2:1-2), as Jesus did with His followers.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:11-13 NIV)

Life example was a key element of discipleship and leadership development in the early church (1 Cor 11:1). They were on a mission, the Lord's mission (Matt 28:19-20).

New wine, new leaders

A healthy physical body requires new cells to replenish and promote continued health. In a healthy church, those new cells are young people. They are potential leaders.

I say potential because they need to be equipped and trained up, as Jesus did with His first followers, and as we see the apostle Paul did with Timothy and others (John 13:15; 2 Tim 1:13).

In a dialog with some religious leaders, Jesus said that new wine needed to be put into new wineskins. In that context, He was speaking of the New Covenant—a new way of relationship with God.

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the skins burst and the wine is spilled out and the skins are destroyed. Instead they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved. (Matt 9:17 NET)

Many of us want God to bring revival, a new outpouring and moving of God's Spirit. But are we ready for it? Not if we aren't training up Timothy-type leaders and releasing ministry to them.

[bctt tweet="Many of us want God to bring revival, but are we ready for it?"]

If you're a pastor or in a place of pastoral leadership, you need to ask yourself an honest question— Pastor, where's your Timothy?

What's a pastor to do?

  • Personally disciple people— those who have a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus and those who seek Him
  • Give people opportunities— those who are both faithful and ready to step out in faith
  • Provide further training— for those who show commitment and aptitude for leadership
  • Encourage and equip all the people— not by yourself, but through those raised up in leadership
  • Be an example of a servant-leader— Jesus' is our prime example, as in John 13:1-17
  • Find a Timothy—a son in the faith—to pass the responsibility of ministry on to them

This is a two-part post. Stay tuned for the follow-up on this one.

These links help provide some background for this article—

Aging Congregations

8 Implications– of aging boomer pastors & church staff

5 Ways to Lead Like Jesus

Photo credit: lightstock.com You might remember the Christian marketing craze of WWJD. Well, that's how I saw it. It was a craze, a fad, a marketing ploy with a quasi-stamp-of-approval from Jesus. The acronym was based on the Christian classic, In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon.

I've read the book. It was better than the marketing fad. It encouraged a daily lifestyle reflecting the humble, yet practical way Jesus lived while on earth. People were encouraged to ask themselves the question, "What would Jesus do?" How would Jesus handle the various relationships and situations of my life?

So the question can also be asked, "How did Jesus lead?" What are the ways Jesus displayed leadership? One thing is certain, He demonstrated servant-leadership in everything He did.

The qualities and roles of Jesus' leadership are seen in His humble expression of servant-leadership, in John 13:1-17. This is where Jesus washes the disciples feet, including Judas, the one who would later betray Him.

Jesus shows us an example of confident, yet humble leadership. Then we see Jesus pointedly addressing the lack of humble leadership in His own followers. They had a penchant for arguing who was the greatest among them. Jesus even used a child as an example, to make His point in a couple of instances (Mark 9:33-37; Luke 22:24-27).

[bctt tweet="Jesus shows us an example of confident, yet humble leadership"]

In John 13, Jesus provides a clear example by carrying out the job of the lowest household servant. He shows us how a servant-leader leads.

Here are 5 ways a true servant-leader leads.

Know the way

We see the Lord’s confidence in knowing who He was as God’s Son, in John 13:1, 3. Jesus knew where He came from, and where He was going, and that His Father gave authority over all things to Him.

Our confidence is not to be in ourselves, nor our abilities, but in the Lord. Who has He called us to be? How has he called us to serve Him? Our confidence as leaders needs to be based in our own, healthy relationship with Jesus.

[bctt tweet="Our confidence is not to be in ourselves, nor our abilities, but in the Lord"]

Knowing the way for us is to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Jesus daily (Luke 9:23). Surrendering our will to Jesus, we will be guided by the Holy Spirit each day.

Walk the Way

By far, the most common and important element of true servant-leadership is being a living example.

This, of course, is the picture we have of Jesus as He washes the disciples feet (John 13:4-5). It is something we see in Him throughout His leadership and training of the disciples.

[bctt tweet="The most common, important element of true servant-leadership is our life example"]

It was an essential element of Jesus' leadership, as it needs to be for each of us.

Show the Way

This is an extension of walking the way, but moves beyond example to helping others see or know the way. How? By teaching and training in a personal and relational manner.

Here in, John 13:6-13, we see Jesus do this in His dialogue with Peter, then in His instruction to all the disciples. This is not classroom or pulpit teaching, but a relational discipleship process.

[bctt tweet="Sound discipleship includes teaching and training in a personal and relational manner"]

It takes an investment of time in people, the very thing we see Jesus do.

Make a way

An important part of leadership is training up new leaders. This is not a program to be developed, but an intentional and relational process of discipleship. This is what we see Jesus doing in John 13:14-15).

Discipleship done well naturally produces leaders. The responsibility of leaders and mentors is to make way for others to step up into leadership roles. It is often a simple matter of creating opportunities to enable others to move forward.

[bctt tweet="Leaders and mentors need to make way for others to step up into leadership roles"]

Jesus' vision was eternal, and He prepared and made the way for His followers to lead others.

Step away

One of the more difficult roles of leadership is knowing when it’s time to move on or get out of the way. It is usually a matter of timing, but also the way in which a leader steps away.

Again, we look to Jesus as our prime example in, John 13:16-17. Other examples are Barnabas bringing Paul to Antioch (Acts 11:22-26) and Paul in his pastoral epistles. It requires more self-denial on the servant-leader’s part.

[bctt tweet="A difficult role of leadership is to know when it’s time to move on or get out of the way"]

On the night Jesus washed the disciples feet, He was preparing them for His departure and for them to step up and into the Jesus-style of leadership—servant-leadership.

Do it

Knowing and doing are two different things. Doing is often what's missing in the church and in leadership. Before you run with this to rail against Christianity, churches, and leaders, remember—this is not just for those with identifiable roles of leadership, it's for all believers.

An old adage reminds us to be part of the solution, not the problem. It's easy to find fault with others, it's much harder to follow through on what we know to do. This is why Jesus tells His followers, after explaining why He washed their feet—

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:17)

Whose lives do you influence? How can you lead them as Jesus led?

Are you leading others in any of these 5 ways? If so, continue to move forward through all five. If not, why not?


For a more detailed look at how Jesus led, I highly recommend the book, The Jesus Style. It has become a Jesus Movement classic written by my friend, Gayle Erwin.

Another great book on how to make disciples who will disciple others is, The Master Plan of Evangelism, by Robert E. Coleman.

Building a Leadership Team On a Solid Foundation

©tkbeyond_2015As a young boy, I was not a great athlete. I wasn’t even a good one. I was skinny, had no confidence, nor any gift or skill of athleticism. But I loved sports! What I lacked in skill or gifting, I made up with hustle and effort. Consequently, when it came to choosing up teams, I was one of the last, if not the last, to be chosen. Come to think of it, a lot of my life has been like that.

I don’t know how I developed a love for sports, since my dad wasn’t a sports fan. But I loved baseball! To this day, I’m a true-blue LA Dodgers fan, even though I live in FL. I enjoy team sports, but know that having good athletes is not the secret to having a great team. So, how do you build a solid leadership team?

How do you start building?

Always start with a solid foundation. Just as with building a home, or any building, a good, solid foundation is critical. The classic example? The leaning Tower of Pisa.

[bctt tweet="When building a leadership team, always start with a solid foundation"]

When it comes to a ministry team within a church or other ministry, a solid relationship with Jesus needs to be priority one. This is where I left off in last week's post. This is also true for any business venture involving Christian believers. If relationship with the Lord isn't priority one, the venture will be built on shaky ground. When it comes to ministry work, this should be obvious.

I see at least five components needed for building a leadership team on solid ground—humility, purposeful vision, commitment, respect, and shared responsibility. Sorry, no clever acronym, and all the points don't start with the same letter. I just couldn't make that happen, so I'll try to keep it short.

#1–Humility

Since a personal relationship with Jesus is our best foundation, lets consider Him as a leader. Want was Jesus like at His core? His very essence? Here it is in His own words—

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30 NIV)

First of all, He tells us what His nature is—gentle and humble. Hmmm, doesn't sound much like what we tend to value in a leader, but there you go. As I mentioned last week, Paul (Phil 2:5-8) and Peter (1 Peter 5:1-5) stress the importance of this as a leadership quality. Humility is an important value for a healthy leadership team.

[bctt tweet="Jesus' humble leadership style is much different from most leaders"]

There are some encouraging promises given. Jesus will give us rest when we look to Him as our first priority—a rest for our souls—an internal rest. And, He promises a good working situation with Him as our senior partner—our genuinely humble leader.

#2–Purposeful vision

Most vision or mission statements I've seen try to be pithy and powerful. However, in some cases it's just a statement without action to back it up. For a vision to propel a leadership team forward, it needs to be purposeful.

A vision that inspires and motivates people needs to have a clear sense of purpose and scope. The vision has a mission built into it. It answers these two questions—

  1. What is the distinct reason for why we exist as a team? [purpose]
  2. Who are we leading and serving, and how will we do this? [scope]

[bctt tweet="Vision that inspires and motivates needs to have a clear purpose and scope"]

#3–Commitment

There's the old fable about a pig and a chicken regarding their different levels of commitment to a breakfast of ham and eggs. Obviously, the pig has to die to contribute to the breakfast, while the chicken continues to live after contributing the eggs.

Real commitment requires risk. It's a matter of trust, even when a certain level of confidence exists. When building a leadership team, commitment is essential, but everyone needs to buy in to what ever the mission is. This is why the vision, which expresses whatever the mission is, must be purposeful and clear.

[bctt tweet="Real commitment requires the willingness to risk and trust"]

#4–Respect

Respect is a valuable, but often underrated, even neglected element of a solid leadership team. With team sports, the more respect and trust (commitment) each member has for the others, the more likely the team will function at a high level.

Over and over, teams that play well together, but without superstars, defeat teams laden with talent who lack team unity. Members of a solid team will say they "have one another's back" as an expression of commitment and respect.

[bctt tweet="Respect is a valuable, but underrated and neglected element of leadership"]

Respect also needs to be shown when things don't go as expected or wanted. This is where members of a team realize the intrinsic value of each member. The famous quote by Alexander Dumas, in The Three Musketeers, expresses this idea— "All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall."

#5–Shared responsibility

This is where a team becomes a real team. Each person needs to realize that their area of responsibility is not just theirs alone. The "all for one..." quote applies, once again. A team is a complementary relationship. Each member fills a role, and the strengths of one member flow over and fill the weaknesses of others.

[bctt tweet="A team is a complementary relationship, where strengths and weaknesses fit together"]

The church, the Body of Christ, is to be a model of this, as the apostle Paul points out in his first epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:14-27), and in other epistles.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Rom 12:3-5 NIV)

These traits—humility, purposeful vision, commitment, respect, and shared responsibility—based on a solid foundation, are a good start in building a healthy leadership team.

What are your thoughts on these traits?

What's your experience with leadership teams—good or bad?


This is one of several posts on leadership. The most recent one on leadership teams is– Leadership Transition and the Value of a Team

What Do We Have in Common?

Photo credit: lightstock.com A tribe is one of the newer terms to describe a specific group of people with a common bond. Whatever the common bond might be, it ties people together as a like-minded unit. It could be a cause, a leader, or a common interest.

A tribe needs someone to be the leader. In pre-PC days they might be referred to as a chief. But their title or designation isn't what's important. What is important is their leadership. For a tribe or any community to continue to function as a unit, the leader needs to be able to lead them together.

A Body, not an institution

The church—the Body of Christ, as it's called in the Bible—is a community of believers with a common bond. What's the common bond for the church? Jesus. He is also the head of the church—its primary leader. It's more than a tribe, it's a family with one Father and many children.

The church is not an institution, as some may think. Not God's church. It stretches far beyond any organization or institutional hierarchy governed by man. And God never designed it to be populated by individuals who participate only for how it benefits them or best fits their needs.

[bctt tweet="The church stretches far beyond any organization or institutional hierarchy of man"]

How God designed His church is illustrated by the celebration of communion, also called the Lord's Supper or the Eucharist. It is not a remembrance of Jesus' suffering on the cross, but a time to remember Him. He who is our common bond and the Shepherd of our souls. We are to remember who He is and what He did upon the cross and through His resurrection.

A common commitment

Our common bond as a body of believers is what enables us to be a community, but it doesn't mean we function as one. Our ability and willingness to function as a community is based on our commitment to surrender our will and life to Jesus.

[bctt tweet="Our common bond as a body of believers is what enables us to be a community"]

He is our common bond, and it is our collective relationship with Him that enables us to be a community. We function best as a community when our surrender and humility to Jesus overflows into our relationships with one another.

This is the picture revealed to us in the book of Acts where, "All who believed were together and held everything in common..." (Acts 2:44 NET). Again we're told, "The group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own, but everything was held in common" (Acts 4:32).

What was their secret?

I wrote a post recently about the value of a team in leadership transition. It got me thinking, "How does a church develop a leadership team?" This got me to reflect on what the church's foundation is for being a team. The early church "held everything in common." This is what made them a true community.

[bctt tweet="The early church held everything in common, which made them a true community"]

The biblical Greek word for this commonality is koinonia (1 Cor 10:16 NKJV), which is also where we draw the word communion. As mentioned above, what draws believers together when celebrating communion is our common relationship with Jesus.

This is what Jesus prayed for on the night He was betrayed—

“I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me." (John 17:20-21 NET)

The apostle Paul exhorts the church in Philippi with a similar heart—

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: (Phil 2:3-5 NET)

Humble leadership

When we experience this type of community as a church body, we have the proper foundation for developing a leadership team. It reflects the nature of the chief Shepherd, Jesus (1 Peter 5:1-5).

Next week I'll look at how to build a leadership team on this foundation. If you haven't read the 3-part series on leadership transition, links for the first two posts are in the third post. Here's the link–Leadership Transition and the Value of a Team

What do you think is needed for building a leadership team on a solid foundation?

Stay tuned!

Are You Casting a Shadow, or In Someone's Shadow?

Photo credit: Ptr Larry Anderson Over the past few weeks I've been filling in for a pastor on sabbatical. I'm in Juneau, Alaska as part of a team of five pastors who've served this church (and their pastor) over the past several months. Each of us brings a different style and area of ministry focus.

It's a healthy church body and my role is primarily working with discipleship and developing leaders. In my opinion, I've got the gravy job. Most of the nuts and bolts ministry work was done before I got here. So I'm thankful for my fellow Poimen Ministries pastors, including those serving in other places.

This third and final post, in a series on leadership transition, is a combination of questions and thoughts to help you look toward and plan for a good transition of leadership.

Leadership Transition—part 3

If you've followed along, this is the 3rd post related to the story of leadership transition from King Solomon to his son Rehoboam, as told in 2 Chronicles 10. If not, you might want to review the previous two posts in this series. The first is– The Importance of Passing the Baton Well, and the second is– Leadership Transition and the Value of a Team.

As with part 2, this will mostly be questions to consider, and these will focus more on the one coming into a leadership role or position. Although it can be looked at from a younger leader's (pastor's) perspective, there are good things to ponder for those of us who've been in leadership for quite a while.

Do you cast a shadow, or are you in the shadow?

A couple things to keep in mind...

It's always tough to follow in the footsteps of a founding leader or pastor, especially if they were a very charismatic personality type of leader, who is popular and well-liked. It is especially difficult when they remain nearby—it's hard to get out from under their shadow.

[bctt tweet="It's always tough to follow in the footsteps of a founding leader or pastor"]

Can you imagine what it was like to follow someone like Solomon? Solomon did very well, but his dad (King David) set things up very well for him. That favor was not returned for Rehoboam—a lesson to be learned!

[bctt tweet="Do you cast a shadow, or are you in someone's shadow?"]

Some questions and thoughts to consider

  • If you're a founding leader or pastor– What are you doing now to provide for a smooth transition for whoever will follow you?

We have the example of King David setting things up for Solomon, but we also have Jesus.

Once Jesus began His public ministry, He started grooming those who would become the leaders of the first church. He chose twelve men and trained them through teaching, example, and delegation. He told them and showed them, then sent them out.

[bctt tweet="How are you providing for a smooth transition for whoever follows you?"]

I over-simplified Jesus' training process, but a more thorough look at it can be found in many good books. One I always recommend is the classic, "The Master Plan of Evangelism" by Robert Coleman.

And don't forget the apostle Paul, who wrote most of the epistles of the New Testament, especially those called the Pastoral Epistles—1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. Paul has much to say about discipling and raising up leaders!

  • If you're a new leader or pastor– What model of leadership are you following? That of Jesus, or someone you're trying to emulate?

I served as a missionary and pastor in the Philippines for fifteen years. Another pastor and I served as interim pastors at a local church, and my friend recruited a young Filipino pastor to serve at our church. I had the opportunity to help this young pastor get settled as the new senior pastor.

He was discipled well by another American missionary-pastor, so he was equipped to teach and he also led worship. But, I encouraged him to develop his own vision for the church, and with his own style of leading.

[bctt tweet="Whose example are you following? Jesus, or some successful person?"]

His mentor had a strong personality, so I was concerned the younger pastor would tend to emulate him. He followed that advice and developed into a strong pastoral leader and teacher. He is also committed to discipling other leaders within the church.

  • Are you following a founding pastor? If so, what are you doing to help the people of the organization or church adjust to a different leadership style and personality?
    • Are you starting out fresh with a new vision and direction?
    • What are you bringing along with you as a leader from your own experience, good or bad?

King David had a vision for the Kingdom of Israel while he was king, and saw beyond his own reign. Because of his passion for God he wanted to build a temple, but this was not God's plan. So King David set things in place for the temple to be built by his son, as well as the transition of leadership (see 1 Chronicles 22).

  • Has God given you a fresh vision for leadership?
    • Can you articulate this vision clearly so others can see it with you?
    • Has God revealed His plan for how this vision is to be implemented and fulfilled?
    • Have you sought out counsel from more experienced leaders?
  • Or...
    • Are you moving forward with your own ideas as it seems best to you?
    • Are your plans based on borrowed ideas from someone who's "successful"?

Some final thoughts

A leadership book I've found very helpful over the years is, "The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make," by Hans Finzel. I like it because it's based on real experience, it's concise and practical, and provides clear direction for how not to make these same mistakes. It is well worth the read.

Hopefully, along the path of leadership, we can learn how to make good transitions, so others may follow well. If you want the top 10 ways to lead, observe the master leader, Jesus! No one can improve on His methods, nor match His example.

If you'd like the help of some seasoned pastors, check out Poimen Ministries— we're committed to serving pastors.

Leadership Transition and the Value of a Team

What does good leadership transition look like? Should it be on a grand scale and made with great promises? How long should it take, and what's the secret to a successful transition?

Last week I started a three-part series on leadership transition, using the illustration of passing the baton in a relay race. A relay race is composed of teams of four runners who must be quick, strategic, and smooth in running, pacing the handoff of the baton, and the handoff itself.

One critical element is often overlooked in our age of super-stardom. The four runners must work together as a team. No one runner is more important than the other. Each has a role to play. Yes, it's great to get off to a good start, and have a strong kick at the finish. But, it's also vital that the second and third runners gain, regain, or keep the lead, along with seamless handoffs so no precious seconds are lost.

Teamwork is critical for good transitions of leadership. But where and when does this teamwork start?

From great to not so great

Last installment (part 1) we looked at the story of Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles. It is a sad example of a transfer of leadership from one leader to another, from King Solomon to Rehoboam, his son. It can also illustrate a transition of leadership in most any organization, including a church.

[bctt tweet="Teamwork is critical for good transitions of leadership."]

One thing especially difficult is a transition from a founding pastor (or leader), to a younger, much less experienced leader, as in this story (2 Chronicles 10:1-19). "Filling the shoes" of someone who established the culture of a church (or organization) is very difficult, and is even more difficult under the shadow of the founder, if they stay within the organization or church.

Here are several questions that should help bring some healthy consideration towards a good leadership transition. Healthy leadership transition shouldn't start as an afterthought, or in the last few months of a leader's tenure, but needs to start early on. It should be embedded in the whole vision of the church or organization.

[bctt tweet="Healthy leadership transition shouldn't start as an afterthought"]

Self-accountability questions for leaders—

  1. How is your relationship with the Lord? Are you going through a spiritual growth period or a dry spell? Are your devotional times with the Lord somewhat hum-drum or are you experiencing some special times as well?
  2. Who are you discipling? Are you investing any of your life and walk with the Lord in someone else? How are you transferring any of what the Lord has done in your life to bless others?
  3. Who are you training up for positions of leadership? Who is able to take your place if you're called to do something different someday? Will what you are doing outlast or survive your involvement and presence?
  4. Are you accountable to anyone? Who? Do they know this? Do you make regular time to be held accountable? If not, who can you go to when you need guidance, help, or restoration?
  5. What vision do you have for ministry now and the future? Do you have a sense of vision for the ministry you're involved with now? Do you have vision for other ministry beyond what you're doing now?

Now rather than later

That's a bunch of questions all at one time, but these are not to be answered once and set aside. They should be looked at and considered from time to time within a given year—maybe 2 or 3 times a year.

Discipleship will naturally produce leaders. It worked well for Jesus, and it still works. It's just a slow and deliberate process, which is why now is the best time to start doing it! Keep it simple, personal, and deliberate. It will spawn good spiritual growth for the discipler, as well as the one discipled.

[bctt tweet="Discipleship will naturally produce leaders, as it did for Jesus"]

Looking ahead

In the next installment I'd like to address some questions for younger leaders. But even young leaders can benefit from the above questions. If Rehoboam followed the advice of the team of advisors to his father (King Solomon), it would be a very different story. But he didn't.

Trusted and proven advisors are a valuable asset to young leaders, any leaders for that matter. New and young leaders can bring fresh vision and energy to the table, but not know how to get things started or how to implement the vision.

[bctt tweet="Trusted and proven advisors are a valuable asset to young leaders"]

Next week, we'll look at a few ideas to prepare for leadership transition long before it needs to happen.

What is your experience with discipleship?

Are you investing any of your life and walk with the Lord in someone else?

Who are you training up for positions of leadership?

What vision do you have for ministry now and the future?

The Importance of Passing the Baton Well

Photo credit: www.coign.org Passing the baton in a relay race is the most critical part of the race. It happens three times, and each pass impacts the race. When it's done in a smooth, swift manner, precious seconds are gained. When the transition is rough, it slows the pace of both runners and valuable time is lost. If the baton is dropped, the whole relay team loses.

They say that practice makes perfect, and this is paramount for a relay race. Sadly, there have been some horrendous baton mistakes in recent Olympic races. Can you imagine working for years to get to the Olympics, only to watch your hopes of a medal vanish in seconds? It happens.

The passing of a baton is a good illustration for a transition of leadership. When it's done well, the benefits are immense. When it's done poorly, the losses are incalculable.

The transfer process

Reading through 2 Chronicles, in the midst of genealogies and royal histories, the Lord opened up some thoughts for me about transition of leadership.

[bctt tweet="When transition of leadership is done well, the benefits are immense"]

The transition of power from King Solomon to his son Rehoboam is a clear example of how not to do leadership transition. Let's be honest, for anyone who has gone through a transition of leadership in any field, it can be tricky and difficult for everyone concerned.

When it comes to spiritual leadership, especially pastoral leadership, transition is difficult, and costly when not done well. The fallout of a failed or troubled transition affects the people in the church and community, as well as, the immediate leadership involved—pastors, elders, the board, and ministry leaders.

[bctt tweet="The fallout of a failed transition of leadership affects many, many people"]

A lack of wisdom

Photo Credit: tableatny, Flickr

This is the first in a three-part series on transition of leadership. This post will look at the immediate context of a young leader stepping into the very large shoes of a bigger-than-life leader, namely, King Solomon. The text is 2 Chronicles 10:1-19.

[bctt tweet="When leadership transition is done poorly, the losses are incalculable"]

After King Solomon's death, his son Rehoboam finds the people of Israel coming with a request. They express how difficult it was for them living under the strong-handed leadership of his father, and the cost it required. They request a lighter burden to bear in exchange for loyalty and continued service.

Rehoboam seeks the counsel of his father's advisors who suggest he grant the people's request and the people will be faithful and loyal as his servants.

But Rehoboam is not satisfied with their counsel, so he seeks out his own advisors—those who've grown up with him, his peers in experience and age. Their counsel is to be even more harsh than his father had been. So, when the people return for the king's response, they are met with a harsh rebuke.

The people responded with rebellion! When the king refused to listen to them, they abandoned him, or as others have said, they voted with their feet.

The right person

Why did this happen? Many answers could apply, but here are a couple of observations.

Rehoboam was no King Solomon. He didn't have the stature, wisdom, nor leadership gifts of his father Solomon. Four decades of full-time ministry taught my wife and I that one person cannot be replaced with just anyone. There is no magical transfer of leadership gifts and capacity.

In fact, we found that two or three people were needed to take the place of another who served in a major role for a significant time. Primary leadership (as a director, pastor, etc.) is certainly not just a hole to be filled. It requires more than just a warm body. It requires the right person. Wisdom and discernment are needed, as well as clear guidance from God.

[bctt tweet="There is no magical transfer of leadership gifts and capacity"]

The right time and the right way

Rehoboam refused to really listen to the people and consider the implications of what they were saying. A common problem for many young leaders is to try to bring change too quickly. Another problem is trying to lead with the same style of leadership as someone else. Neither is wise.

[bctt tweet="Trying to lead with someone else's style of leadership is unwise"]

photo credit: http://www.hrtechblog.com

When I prepared to turn over the church I planted in the late seventies, to join another ministry overseas, I had a simple prayer request. I asked the Lord for a man who had senior pastoral experience to come take the church. I saw enough failed and troubled church transitions to know the consequences of inexperience.

I wanted to have a clean hand-off of the baton of leadership. Thankfully, the Lord answered my prayer, and the church saw no downturn in giving or attendance, and the church experienced strong growth within months of the final transition.

How can it be done well?

In the next installment, I'll ask some specific questions related to transition of leadership. General principles can be gained through examples in the Bible, but specifics for each transition need more consideration, and plenty of prayer.

In the meantime, to get started in that direction—

What is God showing you through this text (2 Chronicles 10:1-19) about leadership in general?

What experience do you have witnessing or participating in a transition of leadership (at any level)?

Have We've Become Too Results Oriented?

Photo credit: weknowmemes.com "What's the bottom line?" This was the classic question of the 80's. Similar clichés abound today—the most bang for your bucktrading time for dollarsetc.

On one hand, I expect this in the business world, even though many leaders tell us it shouldn't be that way (Ex– Good to Great).

During our small group men's study last week, I saw how much this attitude permeates the Christian realm. I don't see this as a good trend for the Christian faith. But how can we change it?

How many followers do you have?

As an author and blogger, I hear a lot about building my platform, increasing my email list, and getting more subscriptions. All important things in this day and age. Why? So the message will get out to more people, and to sell more product (books, courses, etc.).

I understand the reasoning and incentive, I'm just not so sure it's what is most important.

If the goal is success, a better lifestyle, fame or money, then I guess those things are really important. But those things aren't so important to me now.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against such things or see them as wrong. I just think there's more important things than focusing on results.

What's most important?

What could be more important than results? Relationships!

In our discussion last Friday, we talked about sharing our faith and helping others grow in their faith. We talked about online devotionals and studies, book and pamphlets, and different local ministries.

It's subtle, but we realized this is part of the getting results mind-set. Do you see it?

[bctt tweet="Are results more important than relationships?"]

All these are great ideas, but they all move in a common direction. Each are a suggestion that replaces spending time with whomever we want to share our faith.

Where did we get so off track in our commitment to share our faith or encourage others in faith matters? Does it matter...really?

What matters is getting back to what is centrally important—building relationships.

[bctt tweet="What matters is building relationships"]

WDJD?

Remember the WWJD fad? Let's be honest, it became another marketing trend than a means of sharing faith. I posted an article that addressed this by looking at what Jesus didWDJD.

Reading through all four Gospels, it's not too hard to see what Jesus' priority was. It was people.

When people brought children for Him to bless, or asked Him to heal a child or deliver someone from demonic power, He didn't suggest some alternative to taking time to personally deal with the request. In fact, He insisted on personally taking care of the need.

Was Jesus result oriented?

Was Jesus result oriented? I suppose you could make a case for that, but it seems He was more concerned about the people themselves, not just caring for their need.

How did Jesus disciple those closest to Him? He spent time with them. He used real life situations to teach them. And the closer He got to His main mission (the cross), He intensified the time spent with His apostles.

[bctt tweet=" When Jesus discipled those closest to Him, He spent time with them."]

Whether we consider the approach of Jesus and His apostles to evangelism, discipleship, leadership, or extending God's kingdom (i.e. church growth), it most often started with one or a few persons. The goal wasn't numbers, but relationship. Bringing people into relationship with God, and guiding them in their relationship with God.

Can we do better? I don't see how.

[bctt tweet="Consider the approach of Jesus—it most often started with one or a few persons"]

Results or relationship?

Do we need to choose between results or relationship? I don't think there's a need to choose one in exclusion of the other. Based on what we see in the Gospels and Acts, it seems that results naturally follow building relationships.

I would rather have ten to twenty personal friends than hundreds of Facebook friends. I'd rather see more followers of Jesus than followers on Twitter.

What about you? What's more important to you—results or relationships?

It's a matter of time and priorities. Wherever we make the greatest investment of those two, reveals what we value most.

[bctt tweet="Whatever we invest in the most reveals what we value most."]

Seeking Greatness

WS-devo_PMSJesus called the apostles and said, “You know that the acknowledged rulers of nations have absolute power over people and their officials have absolute authority over people. But that’s not the way it’s going to be among you. Whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant. Whoever wants to be most important among you will be a slave for everyone.

It’s the same way with the Son of Man. He didn’t come so that others could serve him. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many people.” (‭Mark‬ ‭10‬:‭42-45‬ GW)

God's kingdom is so different when it comes to authority. It's upside down from what we know in the world. But then, God is different from all humans, and humbled Himself for our benefit.

If you seek greatness, seek to serve others. God honors this ambition. ©Word-Strong_2014

Disconnect–a Problem for Leaders

Photo credit: www.whataboutisrael.blogspot.com/ The Bible has a lot to say about leaders and leadership.

Much of it is revealed through the narrative of God's Story. Some is expressed in clear maxims of wisdom, while other insights come from reading between the lines, or rather, by paying attention to what is told and written.

Truth can be harsh

What the Bible has to say is not always positive. This is one of my favorite things about the Scriptures—it's honest. (Tweet or Share this) The truth is not glossed over, nor compromised.

Sometimes the truth is brutal to our ego, as it ought to be.

Recently, I was reading through a devotional and reread the story of the standoff between Moses and Pharaoh. Talk about egos and leadership, even though we are told later that Moses was the meekest (humblest) man on the earth (Numbers 12:3), Moses had an ego, as do all leaders.

Pharaoh's rash assessment that the Hebrews were lazy (Exodus 5:6-9), reminded me how easily leaders can lose connection with those they lead, whether they are soldiers or citizens. (Tweet or Share this)

When leaders lose connection, harsh consequences often follow. First, for those immediately impacted, in this case the Hebrews making bricks, but the ripple of consequence travels far and impacts many. This ripple effect touches those it was never intended to touch. This is seen as the story unfolds in Exodus.

It is easy to look through history, whether secular or biblical, and find great errors in judgment by leaders. Sometimes we fail to see how close to home it happens. (Tweet or Share this)

If the shoe fits

I've been the leader who made a decision, by default or with intent, and saw people suffer the consequences. Sometimes, too often, it has been within my own home as a parent or husband, or "c," both of these.

It's not just a trickle down or ripple effect. When a leader loses perspective, and their words and actions don't fit the reality of those they lead, it's a disconnect. (Tweet or Share this)

Rhetoric is not just useless and empty talk—it reinforces the reality of a leader's disconnect.

I like to read well-written historical novels and biographies. What I've read in them confirms what I've read in the Bible over many years—people in power make decisions that have immediate and ultimate consequences.

For most of us, the word consequence has a negative connotation. But its meaning is neutral—an effect or result of something said or done. So, a consequence can be good or bad.

The wrong agenda

The attitude of Pharaoh towards the Hebrew slaves is echoed throughout history. His agenda was at odds with the condition of the people he led, or in this case, had control over. His arrogance and disdain put him out of touch with the people directly impacted by his decision. He wanted what he wanted and didn't care about the cost.

Reading accounts of some wartime decisions made by commanders mirrors Pharaoh's disconnect with the Hebrew slaves. There are plenty of examples to draw from, such as, Napoleon at Waterloo, countless battles in the US Civil War, the Battle of the Bulge, and in more recent battles in the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars.

Perhaps this error in judgment of commanders is epitomized best in Tennyson's classic poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade.

This problem of disconnect is the result of a leader's disengagement with people—the people he or she has responsibility for and leads. (Tweet or Share this)

Some helpful advice I found

Many years ago I came across a helpful book that addresses this problem, as well as others—The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, by Hans Finzel. This book resonated with me so much I bought a case of them while ministering in the Philippines. I gave them to my leadership staff, board members of our ministry and our church, and some friends in leadership.

I still recommend it. It's one of the most practical and clear books on leadership I've come across. It's not full of axioms and theories, but useful and honest guidance. The humble honesty is what resonated for me. I could relate to all the issues addressed from experience, as the author did.

If anyone looks to you for guidance or as an example, you are a leader. It doesn't matter how small your sphere of influence is, what you say and do matters. (Tweet or Share this) This is why personal, intentional discipleship is so essential. (Tweet or Share this)

Let me leave you with some questions to consider (that I ask of myself)

  • Are you actively engaged and in touch with those you lead, whether at home or at work? (Tweet or Share this)
  • Are you honest and humble enough to admit when you are wrong and make amends? (Tweet or Share this)
  • Are you honest and humble enough to change and make adjustments in how you lead and relate with people? (Tweet or Share this)
  • What are you doing daily—with the Lord and your heart—to be better connected as a leader and example? (Tweet or Share this)

Are You Willing to Let Go?

GWBDM Radio Broadcast Reading through the devotional book, Daily Light, I came across Anne Graham Lotz's introduction notes. She spoke of the need to pass the baton from one generation to another. The baton representing our responsibility to share the gospel and equip others to do the same.

How does this baton get passed without being dropped? The most effective way I know of passing the baton of faith to another generation is given by Jesus—simple, relational discipleship. (Tweet or Share this)

But passing the baton to another generation means we must let go and entrust it to another. It means stepping back so others can step forward. (Tweet or Share this

The need to let go

Discipleship has various phases. In the beginning it requires a strong commitment of leadership. (Tweet or Share this) As it progresses, the mentor needs to allow the one mentored to grow and develop. (Tweet or Share this)

In the language of today, we want to empower disciples. The goal is to enable them to carry on with equipping others, or discipling others to be disciplers. (Tweet or Share this) But good leadership requires letting go, loosening our grip and control, and relinquishing it to another generation. (Tweet or Share this)

This can be challenging and difficult for typical Type A leaders. But if leaders don't let go, the baton will not get passed on.

If a leader holds on too long, the baton will get dropped in the process of transition. (Tweet or Share this) Why? Because they wait too long to let go. I've seen this happen in churches and ministries in the US, and especially overseas with ex-pat missionaries and national leadership. Failure to pass the baton well is costly.

GWBDM Broadcast

Simple tech

This past Sunday evening I had the pleasure of watching my dear pastor friend EB, whom I shared about last week, make a remote radio broadcast.

He and his team of leaders set up their remote broadcast on the bamboo floor of our open-wall, thatched-roof multipurpose building. I was impressed by their use of simple, yet effective technology.**

They use several cell phones, a couple of laptop computers, and a small portable sound mixer. One cell phone provides internet access, another to accept callers, which is patched into the laptop used to broadcast. The other cells are to accept text messages from listeners.

A sim chip from one cell is inserted to a USB wi-fi antenna in the broadcast laptop. This provides a means of sending the remote broadcast to the radio station.

An inclusive approach

Each of the team has a microphone so they can contribute and interact with listeners.

The broadcast is centered around the telling of a biblical story, or the reading of Bible text. Time is given to examine the context of the story or text, and questions are asked to stimulate thought and discussion.

EB uses an oral inductive approach to studying the story or text in this public Bible study. It's interactive and dynamic, and its simplicity engages those who listen in. The radio broadcast has many who look forward to the study and discussion each week.

Allowance is made to accommodate people of varying levels of understanding, and for people to give greetings. It's a true Filipino approach. It's inclusive, relational, and group oriented.

Would it work in the US?

My wife asked me if I thought the same approach to public Bible study and discussion over radio would work in America. Honestly, I'm not sure it would, but it would be worth trying.

Most Bible teaching on radio and television is very linear and uni-directional. Many interview and call-in shows exist, but they tend to become shouting matches or long-winded diatribes, where dominant personalities and opinions reign. In other words, they are anything but inclusive. (Tweet or Share this)

This brings me back to passing the baton to another generation. EB and two others on the team were students of mine before, and the other two are students for EB's training. My role as a primary leader in their lives is complete. They still respect me and look to me for counsel and insight, but they know they have the baton. I let go of it a long time ago.

Trust and humility

Passing the baton onto a new generation requires both trust and humility. (Tweet or Share this) Ultimately, this means that primary leaders must be willing to humble themselves and trust others. As I said, not an easy things for most Type A personalities.

Sadly, western leaders don't have a great track record when it comes to handing off the baton of leadership. (Tweet or Share this) This is true in business, politics, and ministry. And yet, it's the very model Jesus gave us, and what we see throughout the New Testament writings.

So, if you are a leader of some kind and in some way (including parents), are you willing to let go? Are you willing to humble yourself before God and others, including those you mentor? It's what is needed to pass the baton on to another generation, even a younger generation.

Oh, one more thing, EB tells me they hope to get a low-frequency radio transmitter so they don't have to pay for air time. He's already taken and passed his broadcaster's license exam. He's got vision!

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** I hope to add a link to a short video of EB sharing about their radio broadcast... when I have a better internet connection ;-) You can look for it on my Word-Strong Facebook page