Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 6

vv 1-6. Jesus gets a cold and skeptical reception in Nazareth, even from relatives. This is a reminder that not everyone is going to appreciate our ministry. In fact, some very close to us may be antagonistic. If they were opposed to Jesus, God Himself, can we expect much better?! This is a reminder to prepare ourselves to be disagreed with, especially with close friends and family.

Field Training
vv 7-13. Jesus exhibits wise leadership by empowering his followers to carry out His work. The words used are "he gave them authority" to do what He had been doing. It takes great trust, and great humility to let others try, and probably fail on occasion, but look at the result! I am able to write about this today because Jesus multiplied His influence early in His ministry, preparing the apostles for the challenge of building the church.

John the Baptizer Martyred
vv 14-29. John's death reminds us that if we are revolutionary, there will be opposition. And where there is opposition, often we, or those we lead will suffer for the cause. John died on account of Jesus. A leader must be prepared for this sort of thing, though hopefully on a lesser scale. If Jesus didn't believe in what He was doing to the utmost, this would be a good reason to back out. So how important is our mission? Is there the possibility of other suffering on account of our leadership? Are we prepared for this tough reality?

Food for 5000
vv 30-44. Several points in this story:
  • v31. Jesus takes His followers on a retreat following their mission. He wants them to decompress with rest and quiet. This is important to recognize rhythms of work and rest in ministry. If the founders of the church needed rest, then so do we!
  • v37. The disciples have just come back from practicing ministry so He challenges them, "you give them something to eat." A good teacher challenges his students.
  • v41. Though it is Jesus who breaks the bread, He gives it to the disciples to pass out, again, empowering them to take part in the work.
Walking on Water
vv 45-56. First, in v46 Jesus has a time of personal retreat. Earlier He took the disciples but here demonstrates the importance of filling Himself personally. In walking on the water and calming the sea, the disciples are reminded of His identity. It is important for those we lead to remember who we are, and our passion for the mission.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 5

The Demon Possessed Man in the Garasenes
vv 1-20. After calming the storm the disciples and Jesus arrive on the Southeast shore of Galilee, a Gentile area. Jesus sends the demons possessing a crazy man into a herd of pigs. The pigs stampede down the hillside into the water and are drowned. The healed man begs to go with Jesus but Jesus instead commissions him to be a missionary with his own family and town.

The Pigs. Jesus allows the pigs to be possessed and drowned. Though this seems cruel both to the pigs and to their herders, it demonstrates His priorities: humans are a distinct species, set aside as special among all living things. No price is too high to pay for the salvation of even one soul.

Great leaders leave tangible reminders of the mission to inspire their followers. This no doubt sent a strong message to the disciples with regard to the value of seeing the Kingdom radically transform a life. For the disciples also, this scene came directly after the calming of the storm where Jesus demonstrated His power over the physical world. Now He has vividly shown His power over the Spiritual realm.

The Man's Request. It might seem cruel of Jesus to not allow this man to accompany Him. After all, this man has been estranged from his people, and now is linked to the destruction of valuable property! Jesus, however, demonstrates incredible wisdom in leadership by instead commissioning this man.
  • Jesus' personal mission is to the Jews and these are Gentiles. God's full mission is to all people, however. And so Jesus takes the opportunity to multiply His leadership into an area where He is not personally called by partnering with this man. If this man came with Jesus how would those in his village ever hear? What amazement it surely was to see this man in his right mind and to hear his story!
  • Discerning the "good" from the "best" in priorities. As a general leadership observation, Jesus does not give in to every request of His followers. It can be so easy for leaders, especially those in the church, to bend until breaking trying to be available for everyone. Pastors burn out from being unable to say "no". It is especially hard when all the requests coming their way are "good" things, like helping people! How flattering to have someone want to follow after you? But Jesus is able to tell the "good" from the "best," and this is key to staying on mission. To do this first means clearly knowing our mission, and Jesus surely did. With this confidence He is able to in the moment know what to do with this man's request. This is a great challenge to me know my mission from God, because there's a lot of good out there, but there's only a little "best" that is God ordained for my ministry.
A Sick Woman and Jairus' Daughter
vv 21-43. After returning from the Gerasenes, Jesus is again teaching by the lake when a synagogue ruler petitions Jesus to lay hands on his ailing 12 year old daughter. Jesus immediately goes with him and on the way is approached by sick woman in the crowd. As He is walking, she grabs His robe and is healed. Jesus somehow notices and calls her out, praising her faith. Continuing on, the little girl has died, but Jesus assures all that she is just asleep. After being laughed at, Jesus raises her from the dead and warns the people not to spread this story.

The Woman. Jesus, in one sense, is always "on mission." He was on His way to heal the little girl when approached by this woman, showing that He is not too busy to discern opportunities for ministry in any surrounding. For me this means making every interaction count. If I'm buying groceries I can encourage the checkout clerks. When walking around the neighborhood I can engage with my neighbors in discussion. When running in the park I can look for the lonely people. Of course there are numerous possibilities for unforeseen ministry opportunities. Will I be aware of them?

Jairus' Daughter. Clearly Jesus had to have said "no" to many requests for ministry, judging by the crowds that continually pressed Him. Why did He agree to drop everything and go with this man? It doesn't seem fair to everyone else does it? Maybe this is what good leaders do...they do for one what they can't do for all, aka "symbolic leadership"*. It would be a mistake to fulfill every request as a leader would burn out. At the same time, it would be wrong to never help, saying, "well I can't do it for all so it wouldn't be fair to do it for this one." Fairness shouldn't have much to do with it. This is a huge challenge, though, that takes great confidence and awareness of the leader to know their limits. I also wonder if Jesus strategically chose this opportunity because of the impact resultant from helping a synagogue ruler. Who knows? My "fairness" alarm is going off if this the case, "what about all the poor then?" But maybe helping this man, a man of influence, would result in the poor being served.

Jesus' confidence in the whole matter is also to be commended. In v36 Jesus "ignores" those who brought the bad news of the girl's death, instead encouraging them to "believe, and fear not." Even in the face of their laughter he questions their mourning. This shows His great trust in the authority given to Him by the Father. We have also been commissioned to ministry; do we trust God to show up in unlikely circumstances?

Finally, Jesus allows only Peter, James, and John to accompany Him to the healing room. Even within His core of 12, Jesus has chosen 3 to more deeply invest in. Three seems manageable! I am encouraged to look for opportunities to bring others along, sharing in the experience of ministry and encouraging others to lead.

*Thanks to Andy Stanley for this term

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 4

The Sower
1-20. Jesus was aware of those He needed to explain Himself to and of those who needed to discern the truth on their own. Perhaps because He was seeking those with purse hearts, He simply preached the word, allowing the seed to fall on what soil it may. He did not explain this parable to the crowd, though He did quote Isaiah, and did exhort those "with ears to hear" to perceive the message. By not offering an explanation, and by giving the exhortation to "hear", Jesus is challenging the crowd to think deeply...He is not spoon feeding here.

Likewise we also have a duty to preach the, but we need not always worry about fully explaining (though there is a time for this, e.g. 1 Pt 3:15). The important thing is that we are sowing...who knows what discerning ears might hear? Conversely, Jesus does explain to His inner circle, ensuring that they are on the same page. They will be the ones to go out and preach the Word and build the church - it was imperative for them to understand this parable.

The Kingdom of God is like a...
lamp on a stand vv 26-29, a growing seed vv 30-34, a mustard seed vv 21-25.

Jesus knew His audience well. First, these illustrations would be acutely relevant to those He spoke to. Further, He spoke only "as much as they could understand," not heaping knowledge upon knowledge. I love teaching and can easily go off on a tangent, pouring out all my knowledge that at some point is "more than they could understand." Knowing the audience means cultivating empathy...and this takes time. We honor them and we honor God when we do take the time.

Calming the Storm
35-41. Before they are even in the storm, Mark tells us that they left the crowds for the other side of the lake at Jesus' prompting. He's taking them on a field trip! We can't know that the disciples felt like this, but I assume it would be refreshing to be away from direct ministry for a time, and rather to be exclusively in the presence of Jesus.

In calming the storm, Jesus teaches the disciples to trust Him in areas where He has authority. And this authority was boldly wielded.

Our Father

Who Art In Heaven...

Wait, OUR Father...

that means lots of us. If the passage was "My Father" us American wouldn't blink at it. Right in the midst of Jesus' teaching on how we should pray is a reminder that OUR faith is not primarily about us. OUR faith is meant for community and in it's most basic sense. "It is not good for man to be alone" says Genesis 2:18. When we pray, even alone, and if we use the Lord's prayer as any kind of guide, we should be reminded instantly that it's not all about us, that we are not alone, and that there millions of brothers and sisters in the faith worldwide with whom we are communing.

In fact, it is not just the church we are reminded of. For we were ALL created in God's image and continue to image bearers, though damaged and broken. So in one sense God is father to us all. Therefore in prayer we are reminded of those children, those prodigals, who are estranged from their father, and we are led to compassion and prayer on their behalf.

Our father, thank you that this is not meant to be done alone. Thank you for reminding us of this daily. Thanks for being our father, on whom we may cast all our anxieties, because you care for us. Thank you for sending your son, Jesus, that we may once again be in relationship with you. As your children, we can't help but want to please such a compassionate father.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 3

1-6. Jesus strategically challenges the system, in this case not with great moving speeches, but with a hands on, tangible healing of a needy man.

  • Tyre and Sidon were Gentile areas, meaning Jesus' following was trans-cultural.
  • He asked the disciples to have a boat ready...for many sick crowded Him. There are several nuggets here. One, he resources and delegates tasks, having the disciples get the boat. Further, the boat seems to be a creative solution to a problem...they were being crowded, often by sick people. Thus with the boat Jesus could more easily reach many while keeping his team healthy for the big task. Since these large crowds were following Him, Jesus got to chose the location more or less. Therefore, choosing a site on the water was intentional and creative, serving to address a need of the ministry.
  • Again, Jesus has His sights on completing the mission, not on temporary fame. He has an eye to the future, and the present, in ordering that His identity not be revealed.
Appointing the 12
13-19. On a mountainside. Jesus used a retreat setting to call those around Him, likely creating a memorable location for those who would follow. He called those he wanted. Jesus did not take just anybody, but purposefully went after a select few. that He might send them out to preach and to have authority. Perhaps most importantly, Jesus MULTIPLIES His influence, delegating responsibility, not attempting to do it all on His own.

20-30. Jesus uses logic and reason in replying to His critics, not rhetoric or tit-for-tat insults.

Jesus' Mother and Brothers
31-35. Jesus seems to be balancing work and family delicately here. In a culture where family is extremely valued, He sends a strong message by not dropping everything for them. Now He is an adult and a single man so this is not akin to a husband neglecting his wife and kids. Regardless, Jesus shows that there is a time to be with family (perhaps the 1st 30 years of His life) and there is a time to be focused on the task at hand. Further, extending the label of family to His followers sends a strong message regarding how He values them.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Jesus' Leadership: Mark

For the next few weeks our kinship group is reading a chapter a day from Mark while holding a partner accountable to the same. We are reading with the lens of Jesus' leadership as our overall goal is Self-Leadership.

Lord, grant us perseverance in this challenge. Let us learn and grow from your example so that we may lead ourselves, our families, and our communities.
Publish Post

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 2

The Paralytic
1-12. He handles interruptions well! When the man is dropped from the roof, He takes the opportunity to speak past the man's physical needs, to His spiritual needs. Coming in the midst of teaching to a large crowd this demonstrates His great skill at making teachable moments.

Tax Collectors and Sinners and Levi's Calling
13-17. He is not afraid to raise eyebrows for the sake of the mission. Being bold in meeting with these sinners in view of critics sends a strong signal to His newly recruited disciples regarding His values and determination in His mission.

Questions about Fasting: patches and wineskins
18-22. Jesus is articulate in defense of acting counter-culturally. He understands the long-view of the situation, and therefore acts outside the bounds of the "forms" of the establishment, though not outside its "functions." It would be wise for us to likewise recognize what is essential and what is simply a method. Then, of course, Jesus explains Himself with to the point and culturally relevant examples.

23-28. Jesus argues with the Pharisees on their "theological turf" so to speak by quoting the Old Testament, which they know through and through back to them. We can learn to know our opponent's positions so well so as to make arguments based on what they find authoritative.

Jesus' Leadership: Mark 1

Baptism and Temptation
9-12. Jesus is baptized, tempted, and found without sin thus leading by example. He doesn't ask things of us that He hasn't done. This is distinctive of the Christian faith, where the deity shares the experiences of men.

Preaching and Calling Followers
14-15. Jesus proclaims the Kingdom, in obedience to His Father's will, showing that even He is one under authority.

16-20. Like the Rabbi He is known as, He seeks out and calls followers...they don't come to Him but He leads by going after those He wants.

Driving Out an Evil Spirit
21-28. He teaches with authority. What leader does not have conviction in their words? And His authority is not limited to rhetoric; but He puts it into practice by casting out the demon.

29-34. Jesus cares for His "employees", taking time to minister to Peter's mother-in-law.

Solitary Prayer and Ministry
35-39. Jesus' ministry is fueled by SELF-LEADERSHIP. Before engaging in a ministry event, He "fills up His tank" by seeking prayer in a solitary place in the early morning.

A Leper
40-42. Jesus shows genuine compassion for the least of these.

43-45. Jesus is not interested in His own prestige...at least not yet. He is strategically aware of an appropriate time line for His leadership. Yes, one day He will need to be known all over the world, but that time was yet to come. This long term view of ministry is a challenging lesson.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Into the Woods

Tomorrow I'm leaving for a backpacking trip with Rory, Cliff, Doug, Doug's brother Wes, and Hoffman. My goal has been to update this blog everyday for a month but I'll clearly be off for a few days. I'm really looking forward to this trip but I'm already missing my girls back home!

See you in a few...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Catalyst 14: George Barna

From 11/28/06

Barna, of course, is the evangelical polling-research guru. He got his start while working for a secular entertainment company that appraised commercials and other programming for commercial viability. At some point the televangelists used this company but weren't communicating very well with the contacts at the company. Then as overseer remembered that Barna was a Christian - he could speak both researchese and Christianese...and the seeds of a passion were sown.

He's a numbers guy but he also loves to write. His research and his writing have made many see him as a prophet; both for his soul-searching calls to the church, and for the abuse he receives from many who don't appreciate his methods. Here's 3 big takeaways...

Transformation happening outside of traditional church.
Barna got depressed, thinking that the modern church was stuck in a developmental rut. He doubted that transformation was evening happening at a vital level. Of course he researched this and was encouraged that transformation was indeed happening...just outside of the traditional church. Instead of programs and attendance, he found personal relationships and vibrant community to be the biggest indicators of bringing about transformational and alive faith.

Not to go to church - be a church.
I love this. I've heard many say, "the church is not a building, it's people" and they're right on. Barna has a deep love for the non-building church. And his research has backed up what he believes is found in the NT, that church happens when believers live out Act 2:42-29, not when we build a building and sit in pews. Attendance is not what brings about wide-scale Kingdom advance...being the church however, does.

Ignorant of what the church is actually supposed to be.
Barna does not challenge the system simply for the sake of change or to be something new. Far from it. He has concluded what many in the past few years have: that we've confused form and function for too long. And the things is, many are ignorant! They've always experienced church one way, in a certain type of building with a certain type of music with a certain style of prayer and a certain hierarchy of authority. For all many know, pews and organs and wealthy senior pastors and you-name-it are in the Bible!

The beautiful thing about the church that it is like a virus...it can implant itself in any culture. The church does not impose a culture, rather it is beautifully expressed through the myriad of diverse cultures God has created. The church brings values, or functions, but it does not bring forms. In this way God has designed the church to be immortal, every evolving in form to remain relevant in culture, while at the same time never compromising it's values, leaving it concurrently and contradictorily counter-cultural.

It'd be easy to bash those who did this but, one, as the church we must model patience and empathy. Two, it's easy to do! Culture is changing quickly and non are capable of avoiding it's rush. To be faithful then, we must remain in scripture. And Barna does this...he leaves an open invitation for folks who disagree with him to debate - he only asks that they do so from scripture.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Catalyst 13: Kevin Carroll

From 11/12/06

This guy is pretty incredible. He went from being the athletic trainer at St Josephs in Philadelphia to becoming the head trainer for 76ers, one of the first Black men to do this in the NBA. He was the only college trainer among 200 applicants and got the job! His creativity and drive was soon noticed by Nike who made a bold move, hiring him with no title! Basically, they gave Kevin 90 days to get a feel for the place and figure out how he could best fit in the company. He spent the time communicating with all the departments, shooting them ideas while getting to know them...and this became his job. He named the position "Katalyst", K for Kevin as he was someone to bring ideas together. In the end he was responsible for the "Livestrong" campaign with the yellow bracelets among other things.

He's got a contagious passion and exudes confidence and creativity. His passion is for bringing about social change though sport. One great example of this is his sponsorship of Team Uganda for the 'homeless World Cup'. He has since left Nike and is a private consultant and author. His unbridled enthusiasm for life and equally strong ambition to pursue dreams, and to encourage others to do the same, is nothing less than inspiring. The following are quotes and thoughts from listening to his interview...

"Listen More Than You Speak"

"You can [and should] Influence without titles". - I really liked this one. He spoke boldly about challenging structures that might inhibit creativity.

"Play at Work". - In "The Red Rubber Ball" he uses a playground to symbolize life now. The joys and dreams we had there we can still have but often they get lost in bureaucracy and systems.

- Unashamed and Balanced Ambition. He want to be the "Oprah" of sports for social change.

Home Groups

Ideas for leading:
  • Go over 5 "Smooth Stones" elements of church: Worship, Discipleship, Member care, Evangelism near and far, Compassion
  • Work in series of 3-4 weeks on, 1 off for "fun night". One topic for this whole time.
  • Make a graphic organizer calendar and plan 3 months in advance.
  • Theological Bible Study
  • Character Studies
  • Tough Questions Study
  • Lectio Divina, Devotional practice
  • Genograms/family history
Questions for the group leader:
  • How are you leading yourself?
  • What are you reading these days?
  • What are the gifts of the group members?
  • Who has leadership potential?
  • How is delegation for discussion, hosting, worship, outreach, etc?
For Me:
Having walked among the consequences of broken homes for two years helps keep the vision of fostering strong marriages acutely in mind...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Head, Heart, Hands

Matthew 9:35

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching their synagogues, preaching the good news, and healing every disease and sickness.

This is a great passage that summarizes my passion for ministry:

In the synagogues Jesus engaged the minds of the people, reasoning and dialoging with them through the scriptures. It is a passion of mine to likewise empower Christians and outsiders to critically consider their worldviews. Without reason our emotions will lead, a dangerous proposition as the "heart is deceitful above all things" (Jer 17:9). Without reason how can we trust the works of our hands? Let us not forget that we are to "Love the Lord [our] God with all [our] minds" (Mt 22:37).

Preaching stirs our passions. The following verses in Matthew describe Jesus' compassion for the people he ministers to. Without engaging our emotions we run the risk of beoming mechanical in our service, leading from cold reason alone. Reason alone leads us to think in terms of "numbers" and not "human beings". Reason alone might lead us to count the financial cost, but not the human cost. Reason alone does not readily empathize nor does it produce vision. For from the depths of shared emotion lies the beginnings of dreams for what could be.

What good is head knowledge if it remains cerebrally bound? What good is emotion that does not find its way to our hands? I confess that too often we miss this as the church. The social Gospel IS the Gospel, or rather it is part of the full Gospel. If we are just dealing with souls we are no more than modern gnostics. And if it was Jesus' intention to deal with only souls, why did he heal the sick and command us to do the same? "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26).

We receive knowledge in our heads...as we synthesize it stirs our hearts...we are filled with passion that cannot help but express itself through our hands. Or we are moved to compassion be what we see. We reason this critically and decide that it would be right to tangibly approach this issue. These three aspect of faith act like the legs of a stool...remove one and the whole thing falls. None is sufficient on their own but must exist in a beautifully balanced tension with the others. Each one of us will favor one leg of the stool. We must be aware of where we trend to remain spiritually healthy.

I trend "Head". Lord stir my passions! I pray for a heart of flesh to replace a heart of stone (Ezek 36:26). Allow my reason to to inform my emotion and vice versa. And grant opportunity and drive to act this out!

Where do you trend?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Joseph - A Lesson in Humility

This ain't no technicolor dreamcoat story - I'm talking about Joseph, the "father" of Jesus. Just about the only thing these two had in common was a propensity for divinely vivid dreams. While Genesis Joe was having dreams of grandeur, Nativity Joe was being told that his fiance was preggers. While GenJoe was becoming 2nd in command of Egypt, NatJoe was running away to hide there. While GenJoe is celebrated as a pillar of faithfulness in scripture, NatJoe quietly fades from the text, thought to be dead by the time of Jesus' ministry...mainly because he's not even mentioned after Jesus' early life. Finally, while GenJoe has wound up with a flashy musical based around his life, NatJoe is known only for being in Nativity scenes, and for being the husband of a the most worshiped woman in the world.

Inferiority complex? Here's what I wrote in my Bible...

Imagine Joseph's situation: engaged to be married and discovers that his fiance is pregnant...wow! What a punch in the gut. And the Jesus goes on to talk about His "true" father. In a patriarchal society this would be truly humiliating. No wonder Joseph was given so many dream. I'm sure I wouldn't feel confident about the situation without them. But as far as we know Joseph was faithful to obey. What an example of a servant's humility!

Lord - it's not about me. It's about Your story. It's about Your kingdom and Your church. And I get to play a part, however small...or big - It could be like either Joseph. But Lord, like both of them, teach me to be faithful to the dreams and visions you have given...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Catalyst 12: Rick Warren

From 10/16/06

So I had no idea the extent to which the purpose driven pastor has impacted culture. According to him, The Purpose Driven Life was the bestselling book for 3 years running. Dang! Of course this accordingly resulted in 10's of millions in revenue. What did he do with this? Several things. First, he not only stopped taking a salary, but paid back the church for every penny it had paid him since its founding. Second, he started to reverse tithe, giving 90% while living on 10%. Third, he did not drastically increase his standard of living, remaining the house he's been in for a decade while continuing to drive his old Ford. Finally, he started projects - for one, Saddleback now hosts the largest AIDS conference in Evangelicalism. This is huge - Warren pointed out that in the same way we look at the age of slavery when church goers and Bible readers kept their Black brothers and sisters in bondage and think, "come one! how in the world could you allow that to happen," we will likewise look back at our era with regard to AIDS should we not act now.

And these decisions have led to a Kingdom focused and counter-cultural influence. For example, soon after deciding to give back his salary, the big networks came around for interviews. Their first question? "How much do you make?" We're under the microscope, like it or not. What an example of wielding influence well. I love this quote of his:

The purpose of influence is to be a voice for those who have none.

Other cool things from Warren...

He's all about multiplying, really living out 2 Tim 2:2. He has a heart for training leaders and takes young leaders with him wherever he goes.

He's all about healthy marriages. "The purpose of marriage is to make you holy, not happy." Cool huh?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Let's Find Some Darkness

From Summit 2010

Christine Caine is an incredibly charismatic speaker and advocate from Hillsongs church in Australia. Her story is incredible and her passion for preaching the word and reach the broken, especially those caught in sex trafficking, is contagious and convicting. One story that she shared though stood out vividly to me...

While spending time in the states Caine and her family decided to get some American culture. So where do you think they go? Wal-Mart of course. Apparently this is a big deal to Aussies! Her daughter loves Barbie and flashlights so, fortunately for them, Wally-World really does have everything, even Barbie flashlights. The daughter could not wait one second to use it so they picked up some batteries, opened the flashlight, and headed to the checkout. While in line the little girl kept turning the light on and off, unimpressed as it's tiny beam was lost in the whitewash of the fluorescent lights overhead. Then she made a profound statement:

"Mommy, can we go find some darkness?!"

Wow. What a call out the church eh? If we spend our lives where we have everything, in the church, our light isn't' gonna do much. How are we ever going to do this by staying with the fluorescent?

Matt. 16:18 ...on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it!

So let's do it! It's not only more exciting than Wal-Mart, we're given a promise that we can't fail in the mission to bring healing to broken hearts, broken lives, and broken souls.

OK church - Let's find some darkness!

Friday, August 6, 2010


From the Summit class:

"By the grace of God I commit to intentionally leading myself in the example of Jesus Christ so that I might intentionally lead my family"

Lord, hold me to it

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Global Leadership Summit Day 1

Wow - what an incredible day of "drinking from the fire hydrant." Heard some amazing speakers and have had some amazing times in prayer and conversation with classmates. I'm feeling tired and need to finish up my Curriculum class so I'll just put done some pithy thoughts from the day:

Celebrate Mile Markers

Stop spending so much time being interesting and be interested

Leverage the tension

Bliss on a stick

Good is the enemy of great

Let's find some darkness to shine a light in

Power of reaching one

Lead myself, Lead my family

It's all about Jesus

The local church is the hope of the world


...Don't have enough time to explain all those so maybe I'll revisit. But they're more a reminder to me of some key teachings...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

360 Degree Leadership

Via Bill Hybels and Dee Hock

The Premise:
Typically we think of leadership as leading down. Hock, the genius behind the Visa company, argues that this is too one-dimensional; that the most effective leadership has a 360 degree nature.

Hybels likens it to a compass, as the image shows. Obviously, the imagery is intentional as a compass is the tool which directs our leadership. As seen, there are four points and a center to the compass, each corresponding to a different area of leadership. I'll explain...

The leader must care for himself first. This might seem unethical or selfish or narcissistic but here me out. If I am not leading myself; i.e. staying grounded in prayer, family, discipline, reflection, exercise, etc., my leadership will certainly suffer. If I focus all my time on leading down but don't care for my own growth, the organization will stagnate and I will burnout in micromanagement. The same will happen with an over-focus on pleasing superiors. Undue focus on peers will leave me satisfied socially but suffering vocationally. And so effective leadership starts with the self. So much so that Hock thinks 50% of our energy should be placed here!

Hock uses the term, "leading your superiors." I had to wrad my mind around that for a while. Hybels again describes it as "leading up" not "sucking up". There are four components to practicing this healthily:
  1. Do your job well! It all starts with being dependable. In this way your boss need not micromanage you, but rather resource you. The more you do your job, the less he does your job, and the more
  2. Establish relationships. Thereby you will better know one another's needs, and you can be better resourced.
  3. Know their style. Leaders lead differently; thee is no one pattern so discern and adjust. Again this frees your superior from micromanagement.
  4. Dream with them. Send them ideas, not problems.
Hock recommends spending 25% of our energy leading up. If everyone at every level led up, it would be easy to see how little leading down would need to take place...

This refers to those in the organization. Hock gives 10% of our energy here, ensuring constructive relationships while keeping drama to the minimum.

Refers to friends outside. This also receives 10% and refers to colleagues socially and in the marketplace. If we are not learning from peers how will we best advance?

So leaves leaves only 5% of our energy in leading down. The hope is that those under our authority are so motivated by our character (ie SELF), by our example of "leading up" and by the model of our camaraderie with peers, that they will replicate this diagram and likewise apply the same percentages. In this way, leading down is only to clarify information gaps, offer minor correctives, and to lavish affirmations as we wee them.

Could it work in the church? Without getting to deeply into it, it is interesting to notice that the most celebrated Biblical characters, Moses, David, Jesus, and Paul, clearly spent intentional energy to better themselves with God. Out of this God centered self-care came incredible blessing and ministry...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Southern Rain

It's currently pouring in Augusta and I'm LOVING it. I'm at the church with low lights and it's peacefully restful here while I read and write.

I need it - I've been feeling a lot of pressure between being at home with Hannah, loving Virginia well, and getting my work done for school. I kinda almost broke down this morning but a generous friend offered to take Hannah for a few hours and I'm getting a much needed "brain refresher" here at the church, soothed by the rhythm of the rain, the softness of the gray clouds, and the merciful coolness of the air. Lord, thank for this rain! I'm reminded of one of my favorite passages:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

~Is. 55:8-11

I love the imagery of God working through us both for our own benefit (the eater) and to benefit others (sower). I find great encouragement and rest here...

So I love me a good southern thunderstorm. You count on them just about every afternoon this time of year. That makes this morning shower all the more special. Lord, refresh us with the rain of your love and promises and purposes, that we may grown into them and return out fruit to your service...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Catalyst 10: Chris Seay and New Gnosticism

I forgot to get this in the Chris Seay post! I was going to go back and edit but I think this idea is worth its own post.

Anyway it has to do with criticism given to churches like Ecclesia, the one Chris leads, from those who think they focus too much on the "social gospel" and too little on "getting folks saved." Ah, the age old debate. Which is more important?

And the answer? Yes.

Both And! Jesus both healed the body, eg serving the poor, and the soul, eg directing the people toward a relationship with their heavenly father. So I've been all about this BOTH AND understanding for some time, however Chris's comments took it to a new level.

Basically he compared focusing on people's souls as more important than addressing felt needs to the recurring heresy of gnosticism. Essentially, gnostics view the Spirit realm as separate and distinct from physical realm. The spirit is good, while the physical is evil. They went so far as to deny the suffering of the Christ in his physical body as this was detesable to them.

The Bible clearly refutes gnostic claims in certain passages an themes, not the least of which is that Jesus lived in human flesh, and while here, both addressed physical needs and exhorted others to do the same.

So that was my aha! The Gospel is holistic. Serving the physical is a means of serving the should. They are one and the same. I'd be welcome to any comments, but does this sound right? That placing the proclaimed Gospel above the social Gospel leans toward gnosticism?
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