Not a Lone Ranger

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I enjoy watching basketball. Basketball reminds me that you can have a star player, but the team that usually wins is the one that plays the best team defense and offense. Basketball is a team sport. In the same way, leadership in His kingdom is designed to be a team effort, a collaboration of leaders each with different gifts, capacities and responsibilities.

I’ve learned that you can go fast alone but you can go farther together. In other words, I can get something done by myself quickly, but if it is to be sustainable, it must be done as a group with others making contributions. I need insights, contributions, and gifts of others to compensate for my shortcomings, limited perspectives, and incomplete knowledge and wisdom.

Things happen when others help and contribute through their spiritual gifts.

God is also known in relationship. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit collaborate to lead the universe and all creation. Though we have great difficulty in understanding how the Trinity works, no one can miss that they collaborate. This is the perfect model of collaborative leadership. If the Trinity models this, should we not also do the same?

Similarly, Paul was not a “lone-ranger” leader. Yet so many ministries are led by lone rangers. Jesus, Paul and the disciples did not work this way. Leading in light of eternity means we will follow the model of the Trinity and of Jesus’ apostles in working together with other leaders.

More on this next week.

Maranatha,

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Turning from Power-Based Leadership to Servant Leadership

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Transformational Values Shift #3

Last week we studied James, John and the temptation to lead like the world around us – through power leadership. From that, we concluded that a leader who is being transformed by Jesus Christ is one…whose influence and impact is not determined by position, power, or control but who influences and impacts others through serving them in the power of Christ.

Take a moment to assess your thinking, values and practices when it comes to the following:

  • Relationship versus Task: In doing ministry with others, do I give more importance to the task than to relationships? Or do I view both relationship and tasks as essential components, realizing that unity as God’s people is key to our impact?
  • Authority: Do I draw my leadership authority primarily from my job description, title or organizational flow chart? Or do I know that my authority rests primarily on a spiritual authority based on trust, relationship, integrity and ministry?
  • Respect: Does respect come primarily from the title and position I hold? Or is respect primarily earned as I serve Christ, His purposes and His people?
  • Leadership Success: Do I expect and/or feel I deserve credit for the work I and my team do well? Is that my definition of success? Or do I believe success is found in equipping and empowering my teammates in such a way as to accomplish His work to His glory?
  • Control: As a leader, do I control every aspect of my projects, using people only as needed to ensure my success? Or do I believe God is in control and I simply cooperate with Him in developing and helping people to do their part? Do I like to be involved in all communication between staff and peers, as well as in important decision-making? Or do I decentralize decision making, allowing trusted teammates to have the freedom to act in line with plans we have determined as a team.
  • Leadership Profile: Do I make sure everyone (including outsiders) knows that I am the leader in charge? Or do I practice a shared leadership based on other’s giftedness in any given area?
  • People Pleasing: Do I believe it is my role to influence the people I lead by keeping as many of them as happy as possible? Or in serving Christ, His kingdom cause and His people, do I realize I must sometimes make hard decisions that make some friends unhappy?
  • Prayer Leadership: Do I spend very little time actually praying with and/or for the people under my leadership? Or do I pray regularly with and for those I lead since it encourages and empowers them in the Lord?

Take a moment to seriously ponder the above. Now ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What is God saying to me about changes I need to make regarding my lifestyle, ministry or leadership approach?
  2. What will the results of my ministry be at the end of my life if I do not make any changes?
  3. How satisfying are these results from a kingdom perspective?

Praying for you this week.

Maranatha,

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James, John and the Leaders of Today

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Sadly, the culture of the world has become the culture of the church, and leaders lead in churches and ministries just like they do in the culture around it. In fact, the way most ministry leaders operate in each part of the world is like power leaders of the culture – the Indian guru, Chinese mandarin, African chief, Arabic sheik, or Western CEO.

I know the temptation of power leadership. I know what it means to run over people, and I know the freedom of serving people and letting God build His church.

I identify with James and John who, through their mother, asked for power positions sitting one on His right and one on His left in Jesus’ coming kingdom. Most leaders would ask for the same. When the other ten heard about it, they raged in anger. The issue was not the request of sitting on the right or left in Jesus’ kingdom, but that James and John dared to ask first. Behind their hot anger was ambition for the same power, influence, and perks that would come with being numbers one and two after Jesus. All twelve wanted to be great. They were each ambitious.

Jesus called all of them together and said, in effect, your ambition for influence and desire for greatness is not the issue but your strategy for attaining it in the kingdom is 180 degrees off. The issue, said Jesus, is not a position of power but rather taking a servant attitude and acting like one for the sake of others.

One has to learn to be a servant, to really look out for others’ interests and put Jesus’ kingdom first.

Those who have large organizations or churches with many people and resources can easily be deceived into thinking that Jesus has authenticated their leadership. Numbers of people, size of organization, and position of power mean nothing to Christ. What the Lord mandated of leaders in His kingdom is that they be servants.

This is radical, but in light of eternity, ask yourself this question: Do I follow the ways of the flesh or the ways of Jesus?

More on this next week.

Maranatha,

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Turning from Environments of Control to Environments of Grace

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Transformational Values Shift #2

Last week we learned that a leader who is being transformed by Jesus Christ is one who is increasingly and personally gripped by the power and wonder of grace; has experienced brokenness and mercy; and who treats others with similar acceptance, mercy, and love.

Take a moment to assess your thinking, values and practices when it comes to the following:

  • View of God: Do I feel God is a harsh taskmaster who is distant, absent and hard to please? Or do I feel that God is my loving Father, my ‘Papa’ whose Son suffered death to rescue me and make me His own?
  • Growth: Do I believe that the key to lasting life change is trying harder to please Him? Or do I believe the key to real transformation is a deepening relationship with the Trinity?
  • Forgiveness: Do I always struggle with a sense of guilt, feeling like a failure before God? Or do I feel forgiven and deeply loved by God, my Savior?
  • Holy Living: Do I believe that holy living isn’t important? Or do I believe holiness is important, realizing it is only possible as I walk with intimacy with God?
  • Shame and Identity: Am I driven by shame and/or guilt? Or do I know I am a beloved child of God?
  • Rules/Law: Do I believe that as Christians we need rules to keep going straight? Or do I know that we need God’s rules (not man’s) to continually bring us to the cross?
  • Holy Spirit: Do I have no practical understanding of who the Holy Spirit is and how to walk with Him? Or am I learning to enjoy precious intimacy with God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?
  • My “Boast”: Am I at times very proud of my gifts, abilities and accomplishments? Or am I proud of the great price Jesus paid to make people like me part of His family?
  • Brokenness: Do I believe that “successful” ministry can only take place by ministering and leading out of my strengths? Or do I feel that “significant” ministry usually takes place by ministering and leading out of weakness, brokenness, and transparency?
  • Attitude in Prayer: Do I feel that prayer is a burdensome duty that I feel I must do in order to please God or do I feel that prayer is a privilege?

Now take a moment to reflect on these questions:

What keeps me “anchored” in environments of control? What fears? What past experiences, pressures or stresses? What aspects of my culture are barriers to change? What is holding me back from moving toward an environment of grace?

What is God saying to me about changes I need to make regarding my lifestyle, ministry or leadership approach?

Maranatha,

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