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Posts Tagged ‘Leadership Series’

I have the privilege of working in Corporate America and I have had the displeasure of working with people like the woman in the picture above. If you don’t understand it is simply micro-managing.  Micro-managing is a direct result of a lack of trust.

This is my fifth installment of this series and I realized about a week ago that it would take me much longer to complete this so I will have the honor of teaching this in my local fellowship (the first time I have ever taught at this capacity at my current assembly) this weekend. The fourth letter in Leadership is the letter “D”. To make the acrostic work Calvin used the word delegate, I want to say this word is synonymous with “entrusting” which we should be doing. Lets look at an history changing delegation or entrusting:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We all know the story, we all know this verse, but I want to pull out the entrusting element of this. Jesus says “all authority has been given to me” and in turn He says “and I am entrusting this authority to you”. Plain in simple this was the task they were faced with. To take the Gospel to the world. The most important event in human history had taken place and God (Jesus is still God right?) entrusts 11 men to make sure the message reached everyone (remember He only appeared to a few of them). God entrusts them with a priceless diamond for the entire world to see. They in turn entrust each of us as priest of God to continue to spread this message to the whole world and to make disciples of the whole world.

However, something happened early in the history of the Church. So men got a wild hair and said “no, no, we can’t entrust the Church in the hands of laymen, we must make a separate caste, and this special group of men will ensure that this priceless gem is handled properly”. So they reversed the charge. All disciples are to do all ministry and now only special men in a special position, with a special education (no pun intended), from a special school are qualified to handle this gem.  I guess Jesus’ didn’t know what He was doing.

You see as leaders if we can’t entrust ministry into the hands of the ministers, we then circumvent the all priest ministry handed down by God Himself. The purpose of the gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11 is for this purpose:

12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Now I asked a question a few weeks back and it was this “Is the Minister Full of the Church or is the Church full of Ministers”. This question now becomes relevant in this small exhortation. Only one man possessed all of the gifts and He was the God Man Jesus the Christ. Going forward the scriptures says “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  God in His great Wisdom and Providence, decided to scatter the gifts that were exhaustive in Jesus throughout the entire Church in order for us to depend on one another for the building up of the “whole church” as we “grow up into the head” who is Christ.

Okay here comes the practicalness of this conversation. Today, leaders tend to Lord it over the Church of Christ. They control which programs are started, they control what type of bible studies and lessons can be taught, they control what kind of outreach can be done in the name of the church, they control who teaches (namely by only allowing themselves to teach), they even control small groups and other things done in the name of the church. I am not saying you shouldn’t visit or be involved but I am saying that the approval must come through the leaders and if they don’t like it they shut it down. I ask what type of entrusting is that. It is funny that Jesus gave total freedom in how they were to minister. His command was to “go and to teach” and “to make disciples”. They had some leeway (and we see a 100% dependency on the Spirit) to how this was to be flushed out.

Leaders guide as Alan always says. There is a lovely post he has on Decision Making and Leadership also. As leaders we are to lead by example, maturity and service, not by holding tightly to the ministry as if we own veto power. Entrusting takes courage and if we are doing what Paul charges in Ephesians 4:11 I think we could do this more easily and with greater peace of mind. I think our lack of entrusting speaks volumes of us as leaders. I would change the motto to a bit and say “Let Go and Let Them” the “them” being those who are not considered leaders. Thanks for reading if you made it this far.

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Here is how Peter exhorts the Elders in 1 Peter 5:

not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock

I wonder where he got that from maybe someone who was dear to him said this:

25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you.

In the ESV I don’t why they translate the word differently it is the same word “katakyrieuō” which means “to bring under one’s power, to subject one’s self, to subdue, master”.  Peter repeats the exact phrase that Jesus told him back when He was talking about the greatness, servant, Kingdom stuff.

So the question is this. As leaders, how are we to get people to do what we think they should be doing? I guess this could be a two-fold discussion not that I am writing this. The first being how do we get people to obey God, the other is how do we get people to submit to our ideas? Wow, this could be a scary discussion. I guess I now have a third question. Should we expect people to submit to our ideas and if so which ideas? If anyone is up for that discussion, we can open up a floodgate of opinions on that I believe.

Anyway, back to the original program. Calvin who constructed this LEADERSHIP acrostic (I just added my flavor to it) loves pictures and illustrations. I believe he was on the money on this one (he usually is on 99% of the stuff). As we read this one chapter letter/book we are mesmerized by Paul’s writing style. He spends the first few verses encouraging and even praising Philemon for his work in the ministry, he then, with great agility, cuts to the left and says “accordingly… I could command you”. I wonder what Philemon is thinking when he reads this sentence.  I bet his smile, turn into a deep curiosity of what he could be commanded to do. Then Paul says “however I appeal to you”. It is funny that Paul uses the word love three times in 8 verses, not to mention words like joy, comfort and refreshment to open Philemon’s heart. This type of communication can only come from a seasoned leader who is full of wisdom I suppose.

So Paul appeals to Philemon for what? The words that follow must have hit like a ton of bricks dropped from a 200 story building. He says “my son Onesimus”. We get from the letter that Onesimus was a slave (yes a slave Chuck), of Philemon, how he became a slave is not important for this discussion and we can only speculate anyway. We also get that Onesimus ran away and most likely stole from Philemon (Paul promises Philemon that he would repay him) on the way out the door (these equate to a pretty bad beat down if not Capital Punishment under Roman Law). So Paul appeals to Philemon not to just forgive Onesimus (and not have him punished or killed) but to accept him as a brother in the Lord and a co-laborer with the Apostle.

Just think about it, Onesimus is sitting beside Paul as he is writing this letter and Paul tells Onesimus “you must go back and reconcile this issue”. Even if Onesimus has great confidence in Paul there has to be so level of fear that Philemon may “backslide”reject Paul’s appeal and have Onesimus punished. Think about the slaves who saw Onesimus knocking on the door. What about those who were eating dinner over Philemon’s home. What about the neighbors, who hear the rumors of Onesimus fleeing. This was risky and as dangerous as a mine field and Paul says “I appeal to you”, when he could have commanded such a thing.

So what does this say to us as leaders. As Peter and Jesus says “we are not to be lords over one another”. Our method of dealing with things should be to appeal. In our top heavy churches this could be hard to put in practice. Mostly when leadership wants something done they command it, unlike Paul. Verses such as Hebrews 13:17 are quoted. Some of our heavy handed and authoritarian brothers take it a bit further ( I was in a church like this). We were taught not to question and “lording it over” was an understatement. The picture of a biblical leader and the way we deal with differences is to “appeal”. Never to lord, never to manipulate (it is funny when something needs to be built or purchased the manipulation method that is used). As a matter of fact I believe the latter (manipulation) is the more common method today. When funds are low, bring up some verses to manipulate, when we want people to buy into the vision, we manipulate. I believe the lording over may be more of an extreme pentecostal method, but none the less neither method is the way biblical leaders are to get things done.

I would add this (but will not teach this in my local assembly). I believe this method of appeal is to be used to generate consensus on all decisions in the local body. I guess I would be considered a big congregationalist with this perspective. But I believe that consensus is the the biblical model on making decisions in the local church. Even with plurality of elders or with the senior pastor/deacon model, appealing is not necessary. Why? Because the people have no say in the day to day business of the church and even if they do the “board” has full veto power. I don’t agree with this one bit. Each member of the local body has 100% stake in every decision. It is funny that most of decisions that are made are never made by the church, it is made behind closed door and if you disagree you can either deal with it or find another church regardless of the sacrifices you made to see this local assembly flourish and that is sad to me. However that goes back to the every member church, which I believe to be rare to nonexistent today.

In closing lets appeal like our brother Paul. We are not be lords but fellow brothers, and our example (1 Peter 5) should be what allows our other brothers and sisters to willing submit themselves to us. If it is done with a lording over mentality I promise you your decision, regardless of how beneficial it is, is not of God, it is not Holy Spirit driven but man centered and worldly.

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Here is a BLB definition for Encouragement. Here is a webster’s defintion:

 1. to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence. 2. to stimulate by guidance, approval, etc. 3. to promote; foster

Both of these definitions are very similar. In other words to encourage simply means to strengthen or comfort or to call to ones side, a helper. It is the same Greek word used as the name of the Holy Spirit “paraklētos”.

I believe encouragement to be one of the most underated leadership qualitites in all of Christandom. I think the gift goes seemingly ignored. I also believed it is a trait that leaders in the local assembly must pray for and cultivate if they are to  lead God’s people God’s way.

One thing that I realized quite early in my Christian walk is that people can become discouraged quite easily. Christianity really is warfare. It is a race to be run and the crown of glory is our prize. We have a real adversary and demonic warfare is not some antiquated biblical truth. It is real, it is fierce and it can be devastating. Satan doesn’t play the game to knock you off the horse, he comes to destroy. Jesus tells Peter that “Satan has asked for you that he may sift you as wheat”. Other writers describe Him as a lion, so the devastation that he desires to bring is real and we are in imminent danger. So discouragement is lurking on the horizon for each of us.

Because of that we need to be encouraging the people of God daily and this takes vital relationships. Encouragement is investing in the life of others for their good, while simultaneously realizing that this may not be reciprocated. It is an emptying of ones self interest. The leadership today says “what have you done for me lately”. What you have done drives the relationship. Think about it. A Coach encourages, CEO’s encourage, Cheerleaders encourage, even close relatives and loved ones encourage. However, most of this encouragement can be for the benefit of themselves and not you. I believe biblical encouragement to be a total divestiture of self interest and a using of ones resources to invest in the betterment of others. There are three examples I want to pull from the life of Barnabas.

1. In Acts 4 we see Barnabas selling a parcel of land and laying it at the feet of the apostles. The apostles immediately (through some knowledge of the work of the Spirit) that Barnabas has the gift of encouragement and they even name him by this gift. Barnabas gets nothing in return and if you were to contrast Ananias and Sapphira with Barnabas you will see immediately a motive for fame and popularity for their donation.

2. The next time we see Barnabas he is bringing Paul into the “Church”. We know the story of Paul’s conversion, and we see him immediately wanting to be accepted by the disciples and wanting to share this story. However, the disciples think this dude is being slick. They figure that “he wants us to come out (don’t forget they go underground after Stephen’s death) so he can kill us”. So they say “no way”. This must have been the most discouraging thing ever for Paul. Just think about it. He has the miraculous encounter with the risen Savior, he goes blind and receives a prophecy, he is eager to share this (don’t forget what happens when those who endorsed his martyring ways found out that he has converted over to this false religion) with those whom he formerly persecuted and they say no. 

Who comes along and risks his life to be an encouragement? Barnabas (Acts 9). Barnabas could have been wrong about this, however he risked his own life in order to not only encourage Paul but the whole church as we see that in verse 31

31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

3. My third example shook me as I was preparing to teach this. It is found in Chapter 11 of Acts. This actually begins a shift of the Spirit to Paul and a decreasing of sorts for Barnabas. The persecuted Jewish Christians are going throughout the Roman empire and begin to take the Gospel throughout. The problem is that they are only proclaiming to Jews (vs 19) some of these brothers get a wild hair and begin to preach to the Gentile converts and “many turned to the Lord” (vs 21). Word gets back to Jerusalem and who do they send? Barnabas and the bible says “he exhorted (encouraged) them”. Barnabas could have stayed their and got his shine on; however he remembers this bold brother named Paul (who was a Jew by birth but a Roman Citizen and as we find out versed in Roman philosophy and rhetoric). He goes to search for Paul until he finds him, brings him back and then the bible says “THEY met with the church and taught a great many of people” (vs 26b).

From that point forward we begin to see a shift. Paul becomes the leader, to the gentiles and even says “I am the Apostle to the Gentiles”. Paul goes on to write 13-14 books of the New Testament, and it all started from one brother “encouraging” him, namely Barnabas. We later see them in a disagreement over John Mark, where Barnabas stays to encourage Mark and he goes on to write the first Gospel.

Barnabas is a mark of a biblical leader. We never see Barnabas write a book of the bible, we don’t see people arguing over him much in Academic circles, but the fruit of His encouragement is how the Gospel went westward and ultimately into the whole world and it started with a gift that is not mentioned enough in the local assembly. Encouragement takes a divestiture of self interest. It is coming along side of people and bringing them along side of you. It is a getting underneath and individual and propping him up and it a gift that we see consistently through the book of Acts “strengthening the church” (each time Barnabas is mentioned the church is strengthened or grows).

As leaders we are to covet such a trait. Paul says “don’t look out for you own interest” he also says “think of others more highly than yourself”. This is the mind of Christ. Christ displayed this gift without the limitation of sin. We see him encouraging the disciples for 3 years and then after His resurrection encouraging them some more. We see the Holy Spirit being called the “Comforter” or the “Encourager”. One of His functions in our lives is to encourage us. So to lead His sheep we are to encourage them and this takes, time, sacrifice, relationship and a commitment not to give up on others.

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Our Pastor Calvin once asked us, “how many times does Jesus directly tell the disciples that he loves, them” or in other words how many times does Jesus have to reaffirm His love for the disciples? The answer is He doesn’t. Jesus spends very little time talking about love and all of His time loving. The Disciples have very little trouble understanding this, but we do.  If leadership is critical to the local gathering and love makes up all of the commandments, if these two don’t intersect we have a problem.

You see how can a satellite love me? How can a person that I can’t touch love me? How can a person who has no time for me love me? The answer is they can’t and thus I will tell you that love is not love if it is void of relationship. If I have no relationship with you, I have no proof that you love me, and if I have no proof that you love me, I am following a position not a person and this is diametrically opposed to New Testament Leadership. Look how Paul leads again in 1 Thess 2:

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

Love takes a direct interaction, again, it is simply impossible to love without a relationship (see how relationship drives leadership?) We all know 1 Corinthians 13, but it seems to be a disconnect by the sheer fact that the action words are impossible to employ apart from relationship and that means that whatever you are doing it ain’t loving them and if you ain’t loving them your leadership is foreign to that of the bible. Here is what I will be presenting in a couple of weeks as it relates to this topic of love:

Love is called by Paul in Colossians 3 “the united bond of perfectness” or “the perfect bond of unity”. Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 13 that we can do everything from laying our lives down to being  burned or we can give everything to the poor or we can have the greatest spiritual insight and wisdom; however it means nothing if we don’t have love. This is especially true for leadership. Jesus charges Peter in John 20 by asking Peter 3 times if he loved him. Peter gets frustrated and finally says “you know all things” after answering Jesus yes the first two times and each time Jesus commands Peter to feed his sheep. In leadership if we say we love Jesus and we don’t love the sheep we are only fooling ourselves. When Jesus is asked in Matthew 22:37-39 what are the greatest commandments Jesus answers “love God and love man”. In other words love vertically and love horizontally because everything we do hinges on these two commands. In 1 John 4:7-8, John says “God is love” and the proof of our conversion predicates on the command that we love also. Jesus tells the disciples that “the world will know you are my disciples by your love for one another”

If you desire to lead God’s people you will have to love them, if you get so big or so busy that you can’t love them the way the bible commands you to, then you need to step back from leading plain and simple. What occurs in our churches today is quite foreign to a New Testament Eldership perspective. For traveling ministers this would be acceptable, but for those who believe they are called to “pastor” then this is a non-negotiable. Leadership takes love and love takes relationship and the visual would be arrows pointing towards the other:

 

So as we pursue leadership our driver must be love. It has to be. If you desire to be in leadership to express your gift, share your vision, have a following, because you think you are best fit for the job, you think you are the better teacher or even if you feel called (which I have issues with) you are in leadership for the wrong reason. However, if you love the people of God and those you plan on leading (remember apart from relationship this is impossible) then I believe your “vision” is in line with Christs.

 

Again you can’t have a relationship with those you don’t know, and you can’t love without relationship and you can’t lead without loving. If we want to lead God’s people God’s way then we must lead

biblicaly. I don’t agree with Pulpit “ministries” that have no relationship with the people they are to be “leading from the pulpit”. I don’t agree with positional leadership either. Loving and serving are synonymous in the Kingdom of God (remember what Jesus says about “no greater love”). However, today we have put our traditions above the word of God and because it works while simultaneously being cohesive with our “vision” we keep it going. I would ask that we reexamine our pragmatism in light of the Scriptures and ask the Lord Jesus “just because it works does that mean it is best”.

 

Series

Introduction: “Throw away your John Maxwell Books”

Part 1: “Relationships the Engine”

 

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Leadership is defined many ways by many people. It depends on the culture, the political climate, what is being led, who is being led, and what is the risk. Leadership in the military looks much different than leadership in Corporate America, leadership in the home looks much different than leadership in a fraternity, leadership on a football team looks much different than leadership in the boy scouts. If this is true, why does most of the leadership books in reference to the church look more like Corporate America. The church is an organism not an institution. I have said that before and I didn’t coin the term. Leadership in the Body of Christ is diametrically opposed to Leadership in the “Gentile” or “secular world”. The rules don’t apply, the outcome is not the same, the people aren’t numbers, and the end goal is not the same. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 23.

(more…)

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