Leadership


Romans 14:1
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

Alternate translation of this verse: “Welcome the man who is weak in the faith, but do not introduce him straight away to the discussion of questions which can only raise doubts.” —some are so strong-no debate will shake them—however, there are others.

Our culture is one that is fond of discussion for discussion’s sake.
Christianity is not a series of questions simply for debate, as some would have us believe.
G.K. Chesterton, “We have found all the questions that can be found. It is time we stopped looking for questions and started looking for answers.”
Goethe, “Tell me of your certainties I have doubts enough of my own..”
Questions are not wrong-however, we must conclude with affirmation.
–Dr. Barclay-Romans 14.

I recently taught this chapter on our Wednesday night Bible study at our church. There is this whole group of young leaders who tend to question and deconstruct all things church and church tradition. Incorporating deeply challenging questions to core tennets of the faith as a means of discipleship. Claiming these questions and this exposure is actually strengthening their faith. I whole-heartily agree that shepherds/pastors should be thoroughly versed in these issues, however, I’ve been thinking about the role of the shepherd.

Leadership, within the church, is to provide nurture, protection and guidance. (Yeah, of course, the occasional rebuke etc) Recently I have heard criticism aimed at leaders that are bringing to light heretical teachings of others. These leaders aren’t dealing simply with “disputable matters”, they are dealing with issues of orthodoxy. The Emerging Church is at the forefront of this discussion. These emerging leaders are incredible communicators and wonderfully persuasive. They speak about the Word of God as so complicated and mysterious that no one can understand it. They lean on a progressive reasoning and human logic to lead to conclusions about hell, eternity, judgment and other key issues that the Scriptures do not provide. Conclusions that are truly against Scripture.
Evangelicals that bring to light issues of orthodox theology should not be painted as mean-spirited or judgmental. Pastors and leaders have a biblical mandate to speak the truth in love. The Apostle Paul addressed the heresy of the Judizers. The Apostle John debunked the Gnostics, Jude, Peter etc. These men took drastic measures to protect the sheep.

It definitely looks as if social action (gospel) is the new theological gateway drug to universalism. By the way, universalism is more damning than legalism (Apostle Paul) and as damning as Gnosticism (Apostle John). It is up to us to not allow this.

Well, all for now. I hate reading long blogs, so…. (FYI–didn’t proof this)

I cannot believe that I have went through so many courses, conferences, ordinations and never read Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders! It should be mandatory reading for every Christian leader!

I want to share, over the next few days, some quotes and thoughts from this masterpiece. Today I will share from a middle section of his book. He writes about essential qualities of leadership. He lists 8 qualities, I will share two or three quotes from his section on patience.

Patience:
A leader shows patience by not running too far ahead of his followers and thus discouraging them. While keeping ahead, he stays near enough for them to keep him in sight and hear his call forward.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak. Romans 15:1

The evidence of our strength lies not in the distance that separates us from other runners but in our closure with them, our slower pace for their sakes, our helping them pick up and cross the line.

2 Peter 1:5-6 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control patience (perseverance), to patience godliness…
The word never means the spirit which sits with folded hands and simply bears things. It is victorious endurance…Christian steadfastness, the brave and courageous acceptance of everything life can do to us, and the transmuting of even the worst into another step on the upward way. It is the courageous and triumphant ability to bear things, which enables a man to pass breaking point and not to break, and always to greet the unseen with cheer. (Barclay)

Just a few thoughts from this chapter…stay tuned 🙂

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your Name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Doesn’t true leadership begin with understanding? Understanding Who (and where) He is? Understanding how finite our perspective really is in comparison? Wisdom drips from this prayer. Most leadership styles prominent today are motivational in their theoretical foundations. Leaders motivate followers toward share aspirations. Nothing wrong with that. However, where is there room for us to come together and discern His will, His kingdom? Space for yielding to His vision? Corporate dying to our plan?
Spiritual leadership is more than merely forming clever words around motivating scriptures. True spiritual leadership is more concerned about hearing God and doing what He says.

Obviously, personal preferences, passions, desires and even agendas creep into play. After all, He did hardwire us, call us and equip us.

But it seems to me that there needs to be more room in our current leadership paradigms for His will, His kingdom and not simply our own ways. I know my prayers have often been, “Lord, bless my plan, incorporate my vision into Your will, Amen.” I just wonder if one of Christ’s other recorded prayers ever drips from our lips?…”Not My will, but Your will be done…” I shrink back from it too. But doesn’t He REALLY know best? Doesn’t He hold my future and the future of those I am serving/leading? (Well, servant leadership, humility, forgiveness, etc are all topics for another post—:)

Your thoughts….

I’ve often counseled people to strive to be life-long learners. I really believe that we all should continue to learn, grow and stretch ourselves in our particular field and especially in His Word. Well, after completing my doctorate a few years ago I’ve really stunk it up on the continual learner thing. Yeah, I’ve been to conferences, read a book or two and maybe perused a journal or two. But, I’ve not really continued to better myself in leadership, educating others (discipleship).

I few weeks ago my dad mentioned doing a PhD online in leadership. It truly got my juices flowing again. I’ve been reading EVERY school’s academic pages online. Then, the other day, a close friend and colleague mentioned pursuing a PhD in education. You guessed it…I’ve now been investigating Christian education schools and degrees.

Herein lies the problem, I KNOW that both journeys will be of great benefit in my life and the life of our congregation. (I say journey because I am by no means in need of the degree-it’s the knowledge, experience and expertise I need and desire).

Leadership: Well, do I really need to layout the benefits and facts. I will only say, leading change, cultural shift, organizational development, systems, organizational diagnosis and implementation are paramount needs and issues facing most congregations. If our congregation ever sees a leadership transition, this journey would be beneficial. Everything rises and falls on leadership.

Education: Training, teaching, preaching and equipping the Body to do the work of ministry is what being a pastor is all about. Studies show our congregations feel a lack of challenge in their spiritual development. Biblical and spiritual illiteracy are rampid within the church at large. Some of the most drastic shifts and challenges of leading congregational/cultural change lay within shifting models and methods of discipleship and learning.

There you have it. Insight into my current prayers. Your thoughts…I’m I crazy? Which one do you see as the greatest need/benefit? I do have doctorate in leadership, but it’s focus is not leading cultural change. I am totally split down the middle. Jump in!!

Notes from Lit Conference 2010

 (Rough draft of notes and thoughts from yesterday’s leadership conference..will be posting thoughts next week from Andy Stanley’s conference too) Let me know what you think!!!

Pat Summitt

Make Hard work your passion…its called hard work for a reason.

Learn to empower people—give responsibility and authority away. Risk it. When we empower people powerful things happen.

Most important leadership principle—lead by example

Know when to call timeouts. Huddles are powerful. Her huddles are first allowing the PLAYERS to share what they see. Then the staff talks.

Questions leaders must ask:

                Could you work for you?

                What kind of teammate would you be on your staff?

                Are you passionate?

                Are you raising the bar?

                Do you truly listen?

                Your staff are smart, God speaks to them (after all they do work for you!!)—listen!

Role players are important—Pat was a role player on Olympic Team. (But you can change your role if you are passionate and work hard enough)

Embrace discipline-make winning an attitude. Positive is contagious.

Keep score—its important. Basketball is a game and they keep score..we should be able to measure and critique our ministries.

“I will help you; but you have to start your own engine” Pat Summitt telling her son she would help me make the team he just got cut from.

Demonstrate loyalty. Her secretary has been with her 28 years…loyalty and secure identity. She knows her role.

Used to be “My way or the highway, not anymore….I listen.” Pat Summitt

Team 1st then self.  

Pete Wilson

Has God ever called anyone to do something easy and quick?

God requires us to lead with faith. Task is always impossible, scary, difficult. Causes us to trust.

What would you do if you were ABSOLUTELY convinced that God was with you?

Don’t abandon values to pursue vision. Don’t pursue vision ahead of God.  

Where does your sense of security come from? Attendance? Or God?

Dr. Johnny Hunt

Passion draws and repels people at the same time. Know who God is calling you to be, then please Him.

Problem: our church members are UNDER CHALLENGED! Studies show 20 something’s don’t attend congregations because they are not challenged. (They are spiritual-not churched)

Dr. Chris Stevens

Momentum is a leader’s best friend.

3 kinds of momentum.

Structural momentum. Numbers 3:36-37 Moses dictated the structure. Does your structure hold back ministry or hold it up?

If you are going to build anything that lasts; it must have structure. Lack of structure (nice nurseries etc) will keep you from growing. Parking lot, not preaching may be your biggest obstacle.

Systematic momentum. Numbers 3:25-26 Moses developed a system. What systems help you flow?

                Two momentum killers—indecision and procrastination

Set goals—WHOLE congregation must know yearly goals. (baptize #, launch # groups, # of mission trips, support # of missionaries)

Systems must be obvious, easy, quick. Someone volunteers Sunday, what do you do?

What natural barriers are keeping you from growing?

Spiritual momentum. Numbers 4:4

If an organization grows by 35% it must be totally reorganized. Ken Blanchard.

The number one problem in most organizations is no momentum. John Maxwell

Chris Stevens has PhD in Church Growth—number one element of church growth is keeping momentum. Keep momentum by keeping people excited. Keep people excited by being the most excited person in your congregation. Spend enough time with God that you believe in His vision for your church.

Questions for a Momentum Makeover:

                What is the difference between Big Mo and Status Quo?

                Are YOU motivated?

                Is there any urgency and intensity in your organization?

                What are your momentum killers?

                What is your plan?

                Where are your key leaders?

Dr. Jeremy McGinnis (put in my two cents –I was not a conference speaker–would to be though 🙂 )

                Calling-You are called. If you are saved, then Christ has a mission for you to on. (Great Commission)

                Character-Christ is developing the character (Fruit of the Spirit) within you to accomplish the task. Leadership development begins with personal development. Prayer is the number one leadership tool (I say tool in the most reverent way).

                Competency-you have within you the gifts and skills to lead. God created you in your mother’s womb. Fearfully and wonderfully made. You are the only you in the history of the world. Do what He’s called you to do. You have both natural and supernatural gifts God has placed within you and for you.

                Confidence-it is the missing link between average and great leadership. (faith) Faith without works is dead. Be it unto you according to your faith. I’ve not seen such great faith in all of Israel. Go, your faith has made you whole. It’s ok to be great. Be confident in God’s anointing, calling, Scripture, Spirit and activity in your life. At least commit to failing forward. Calling, character, and competency are all dormant until we are confident enough to act, to step out. At least Peter walked and sunk on the water WITH Christ! I believe but help my unbelief. It’s ok to struggle, but not ok to step!

Yesterday, while reading 2 Corinthians, I thought about the current state of preaching. I tried to read the epistle as a whole (you know, that method they teach you in seminary 🙂 )…I began thinking about the pastoral issues, leadership struggles and spiritual implications Paul was wrestling through in his passionate and urgent tones. Right off the bat, Paul has to justify his ”change of plans” (interesting–verse 17) Chapter 7 really demonstrates Paul’s sternness toward apparent sin within the Corinth church. He continues to weave correction throughout his letter, however, Paul again is explicit in dealing with sin and his authority to address it in chapters 10 and 11. Chapter 12:11-ff, Paul lays out his concern for the corporate body. Chapter 13:10, he states it one last time—‘I am writing this to you before I come, hoping that I won’t need to deal severely with you when I do come. For I want to use the authority the Lord has given me to strengthen you, not to tear you down.’ Wow!!! It’s hard to imagine most contemporary pastors speaking like this to their congregations! Cultural and church trends in leadership tend to downplay confrontation, discipline etc.

Again, I just read this yesterday. I’ve just been thinking about the implications for me and my pastor friends. What do you think? If your pastor spoke harshly from the pulpit about known, current sin in your life and/or church, how would you react? Let me know….

I REALLY don’t want to offend anyone. Especially one who mean well and love me so deeply. I definitely don’t want to offend one that truly senses that they are hearing from God. One that is stepping out in faith to ‘speak a word’. One that prays for me and loves me more than many. One that is spot-on so often. however,…..

Sometimes we encounter bad theology, sometimes we (ministers) even espouse bad theology. Let’s face it, none of us have it ALL figured out. We all see through a glass dimly. We all miss it from time to time. We are continually growing and learning, we must remain teachable and allow for correction. With that said, earlier today I missed a prime opportunity to guide a loving, trust-worthy, well-meaning brother.

There’s a prevailing theological assumption….it may be subconscious or covert, but many believers tend to believe that we must build a testimony to have a testimony. The GREATEST testimony God grants to His followers is the preventative one!! Healing from cancer is great! Restored marriages are awesome! Prodigal children returning are cherished celebrations! But, how much more the miracle of the one who NEVER faces disease!?! The marriage that lives in blissful harmony and holy unity without affairs or fractured intimacy!?! How about the child that never strays but grows mightily in the Lord from an early age and is full of the Holy Spirit and Word!?!

This faulty theology further purports that one must face trials, tribulations and sufferings to truly KNOW that God is a deliverer, healer, savior and friend that sticks closer than a brother. Do you believe this?

To be more than a conqueror in Christ, more than a overcomer; is it necessary to face trials, tribulations and sufferings or does one illustrate Christ’s love, grace and power by ALLOWING and RESTING in God’s preemptive provision/protection? I tend to believe His keeping grace is as glamorous and exotic as is His saving grace. I think He is strong enough to keep one free from sickness, attacks of the enemy and trials as powerfully as He can deliver the child in the midst of the storm. What do you think? Let me know. If I’m wrong, then I won’t address my brother.

Let me know….

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