Monday, April 8, 2013

HELP WANTED: Leadership Position


Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant.     Matthew 23:9-11

And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.  Luke 22:25-27
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:1-11

"Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him.  And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She *said to Him, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They *said to Him, “We are able.”  He *said to them,  My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” 

And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said;  

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.  It is NOT this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."     Matthew 20:20-28

There is no more popular nor sacred foundational truth within the Western church than the importance of and necessity of - effective leadership. Leadership conferences abound and the shelves of Christian bookstores are littered with countless volumes on the subject!  It seems that the success of God's business, like any other business, is utterly dependent upon the raising up and functioning of can do "leadership". The core belief in the modern Western church is that the growth of the body both numerically and spiritually is a product of effective leadership. Hence, a failure in numerical and/or spiritual growth is perceived as a failure of leadership! Our belief is that without leaders the sheep would all be lost and would most likely become someones lunch. Yummmmmmm!

Our church leadership structure, modeled upon the concepts of the Roman authoritarian governmental system, has been , at best, an abject failure.  Three dangerous "games" that the children of God love to play are Simeon Says, Monkey See Monkey Do and Follow the Leader.  

Our Lord recognized that the leadership problem was not unique to Roman ism but also well established within Judaism.  Many of God's people were followers of the sect of the Pharisees.  For we read in Matthew 15:

Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were [d]offended when they heard this statement?” 13 But He answered and said, Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

BOTH fall into the pit or ditch

Following men is NOT the path to discipleship no matter how seemingly gifted or sincere you or they are!  It can and has often led to rack and to ruin.  

There is grave danger in following men. However the other side of the coin is the danger of placing the burden of 'leadership" on the shoulders of brothers and sisters telling them that they are special or chosen ministers and are called to bear responsiblity for the health, safety, growth and well being of God's people.  Chosen vessels not the answer.  Historically the landscape of Christianity is littered with the carcases not only of slain sheep but also of fallen leaders who fell under the weight of such a heavy burden.  Even the divinely called and empowered Moses was not able to take God's people into the promised land!  The truth is that leadership is not a job or task for mere mortals to perform.  In God's economy true leadership lies only within the purview of the Holy Spirit - the spirit of Christ.

...for when He (the Spirit) comes He will guide you...

I have become burdened and am deeply grieved, not only for the sheep that have been sacrificed but also for the "leaders" who have been chewed up and spit out!  I have seen so many walking wounded; countless Christain zombies: men and women having the testimony of Jesus who have become burdened, burned out, and. disillusioned Many have collapsed under the weight of leadership.  These believers have been educated and commissioned to do the impossible  Having answered the call and having received their ministry credentials they have been sent out to do the Lord's work and made to shoulder a burden too heavy for any mere mortal or group of mortals to bear. 

So in consideration of this situation and in consultation with my dear brother Jay, I thought to offer a potential avenue to healing and restoration for these battered and bruised saints - the walking wounded.  Together we envisioned an organization called A.A. (Apostolics Anonymous). It operates as a sort of spiritual Betty Ford clinic for the terminally self important.  So I offer for your consideration and edification the following remedy.

Twelve Steps to Effective Leadership

1. We admit that we are powerless over pride and that our lives have become unfruitful.

2. Having come to our senses we realize that we need Jesus more than He needs us and that only He can restore our hearts and us to fruitful service.

3. Having made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care and control of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, we now seek to descend from our lofty positions as self-proclaimed leaders.  We humbly ask that we may have the honor of becoming His bond slaves; that we too may wash the feet of His disciples.

4. We ask the the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and convict us of our error and all sin, including considering ourselves over and above others.

5. Rather than feign perfection, giftedness or spiritual superiority, we admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our transgressions and sins.

6. We acknowledge that we are entirely ready to have God remove all defects of character and we ask for the fullness of the Spirit - that the character of Christ be formed in us. 

7. We humbly ask Him to remove us from our positions of prominence and visibility and give us a heartfelt desire for invisibility, insignificance and loving selfless service.

8. Having made a list of all persons we have hurt, shut out from the “inner circle”, overlooked as insignificant or lowly, those we have stepped on, ignored, condescended to or made to feel inferior in our search for personal significance, achievement, position, and power - we put on humility and seek  forgiveness as the Spirit leads.

9. With respect to those we have directly harmed, burned out, abused or defrauded, we purpose to confess our transgressions and repent.Where necessary we purpose to make  amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. We seek daily to  prayerfully take personal inventory, and when we are wrong to promptly admit it – publicly when necessary.

11. We determine to give ourselves to prayer and the Word of God so as to deepen our relationship with Him that we might know His will for us and do it.

12. Having returned to our first love, we purpose to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  We seek nothing for ourselves but commit with all our heart, mind, and energy to love one another as He has loved us and so we may prove to be His disciples.

"They must know it is not their aptitude,

but their attitude,

 that will determine their altitude." 

Jesse Jackson.

Not by Might, Not by Power

But by My Spirit 

saith the Lord!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Letter to an Emerging Leader

After our discussion this morning, I found myself meditating and thinking about the compound word leadership. Leader + ship. Of course the picture in my mind was of Columbus and the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. I mused that if I were asked to follow Columbus on a journey to the new world, I would first have to know that the captain of the lead ship was an experienced sailor, able to navigate uncharted and dangerous waters and able to keep me safe! It would be paramount that he was someone who was experienced - someone of proven character and skill – and someone who inspired me to follow - a man of vision and courage.

I think that the training of a great sea captain must involve years of selfless service: learning to navigate in fair and foul weather - weathering sudden and violent storms and keeping the ship off of the shoals and rocks. It seems to me my dear brother that you are just such a man! A man who is now under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. Where others seem to get deliverance you learn to endure pain - long suffering. Where others can see the way, chart a course, devise a plan and simply execute it to achieve their objectives (success) - you tack around in the fog, giving it your all and yet you seem to fail over and over again as you sail through the storm unable to even see the way out. You stumble around as a blind man and cannot see the final destination on the horizon because it is your lot to learn to walk by faith and not by sight.

Where others may charge ahead like a bull in a china shop with gusto and boundless energy advancing from glory to glory, you seem destined to plod along fighting doubt, fear, darkness and unbelief every painful step of the journey - for you must learn endurance. Others pray and wait (not long) and then see the promise realized - the object of their prayers seems to materialize out of thin air like a glass in a replicator. You, however, pray, groan, moan, wrestle and weep unable to see or lay hold of the object of your supplications. Often in utter exhaustion you just give up and in your despair you helplessly watch as others receive and enjoy their blessings and then they move onward and upward leaving you behind: for God must work patience into your soul.

Where others are recognized for their gifts and efforts and go to the head of the class where they are accorded honor, endless thank yous and gratitude: you are ignored, overlooked, used, abused, maligned and even exploited. Often you find yourself sitting alone in self imposed isolation fending off the growing darkness, feeling empty, used up and forgotten. Yet, in so doing, you are blessed to be counted worthy to be in the company of the man of constant sorrows.

All this and more is part of your training and not just your education; for God is working into the very fabric of your life those precious qualities of true leadership and of heart which only a scarce few possess. He is endowing you with strength of character and a heart of compassion that causes others to be drawn to you like a moth to a lamp, because, like our Lord, you understand the feelings of their infirmities.

I want you to understand that laying down your life for His sheep does not mean simple martyrdom (as we would understand it) but enduring all things, i.e. loneliness, suffering, hardships, privations, temptations, hurt, scorn, ridicule, and rejection. All of these are specifically tailored just for your growth in truth and holiness so that when this process is completed - in His time - you will BE His witness! As a result, you will not have to try to lead others but you will BE a leader whom others will be drawn to follow. Your ministry, your service, will be divinely powerful because the truth which you share with others will not be intellectual isms or pious platitudes but will be steadfast - divinely powerful - having been forged in the crucible of your life. You will not just overcome but you will BE an overcomer.

When His work is completed in you, then the wind of the Spirit will blow upon the sails of your ship and you will be carried far and wide as He wills. As you glance back you will be surprised to observe that many other ships have chosen to follow you on your journey to the new world!

I'm blessed to know you and to call you my friend. I rejoice in the work of the Lord in your life. I love you and highly esteem you in the Lord. Many are called but few are chosen!


Your Brother in Christ