30 December 2010

Leading to make leaders…

Just read today:

If you Google “leadership development” you get 7.5 million results.  If you search on Amazon you get over 65,800 books. Type in “leadership development” into YouTube and you have access to over 5,000 videos.

We live in a leadership crisis.  Who can lead a nation out of war, when the war is against unseen foes who are not as concerned about taking “territory” as they are about taking “minds?”  Who can lead selflessly when most people have such great deeply ingrained self-interests?  And what does real 21st Century leadership look like anyway?

And how do you develop leaders?

In the Church we have a leadership crisis too.  Or maybe it’s a “follow-ship” crisis – depending on where you stand.  There is a great divide in the minds of many between those “in leadership” and those – who by definition – are “out of leadership.”  So for many, “leadership” is an elite status.  Which causes problems when we think in terms of “priesthood of the Believer” – which is a very NT concept. But all that is another story. (I’m writing about this “Man Up the Mountain” idea in my in-process book which will come out sometime before Jesus returns. I hope.)

Maybe it’s because many “in leadership” have sold their birthright/inheritance as leaders forroad sign a “mess of pottage.”  Moving from being a spiritual leader actively engaged in God’s Mission and the spiritual formation of others to become CEO of “Church Inc.” – the purveyor of religious goods and services – has left many “leaders” stranded, alone and hungry while the church – those “out of leadership” – is stymied, impotent and weak.

Perhaps the CEO mentality came into play when churches set up boards to meet 501c3 non-profit requirements.  Perhaps it’s about power.  Perhaps it’s about management of multi-million dollar empires that include bank accounts, property, investments, electricity bills, staff salaries, retirement fund, Social Security and legal parking lot sizes.  Nonetheless, it’s there and can present a problem when attempting to be “spiritual.”

Leadership is always a hot-button topic when I comes to church, but leadership is indeed biblical.  Even if “leading” means leading people who are told to follow the Holy Spirit on their own…

Some years ago while teaching on another subject at a seminary in Cairo, Egypt (where there was no concept of managing a "church parking lot”), I was asked if “leadership” is even a biblical concept, since we are all “priests.”  My reply was to look at a passage from Hebrews:

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:17 KJV)

I said we can call them an assortment of things: rulers, watchmen or accountants.  But I said, “I choose the word “leaders” as a sort of 20th Century compromise.”  Sorta like the NIV does.

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.  (Heb 13:17 NIV)

In his letter to the Romans, Paul says that leadership (proistemi) is a gift (charisma):

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.  If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it  is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Ro 12:6-9 NIV)

Here Paul gives a grocery list of all sorts of things he characterizes as charismata – grace gifts who by Christ have been formed into a Body:

  • Prophesying
  • Serving
  • Teaching
  • Encouraging
  • Contributing
  • Leadership
  • Giving mercy

Here the definition is one who “stands before” and is to be received by grace, exercised in faith evidenced by governing diligently (spoude).

From my vantage point there are at least three types of leadership:

  • Positional – a matter of title, position, placement or hiring that give the privilege of speaking, ruling and decision-making
  • Relational – a matter of developed relationships that give authority to speak and lead
  • Spiritual – a gift from God

Each of these function in the church.  Each of these are useful and some are culturally defined.

The latest definition that I’ve found is from Ken Blanchard’s Leading at a Higher Level:  

Leadership is the capacity to influence others by unleashing their power and potential for the greater good.

It sounds like a Bible-kind of leadership and carries the idea of empowerment with it.

So here’s my brief take:

  • Leadership is a biblical concept and the kind of leadership given is very important… both to the People of God and to God Himself.
  • Church leadership must be shaped by the values of the Christ and not completely shaped by the culture.
  • Leading is part of a gift mix acquired by grace.
  • Leadership is about keeping watch of people’s souls not about position.
    • The Greek word used here means to stay awake – to be sleepless – and results in giving an account of that watchfulness either with joy or grief…
  • Jesus is the example.  Anyway you cut it.  And if you read the Gospels looking carefully at Jesus’ leadership style, it might mess up the whole CEO mentality.

More later… maybe.

21 December 2010

Chasing the dream…

Nick and Laura Rousey are great kids - out there chasing the dream!  His: to serve God by playing the PGA and provide for his family.  Laura's: to serve God, have a family and home and teach 8th grade kids English.

And the cool thing is that Laura has laid aside some of her have-a-family, own-a-house dream
Nick and Laura Rousey – chasing the dream and remaining faithful!
s to allow Nick to pursue his dream of professional golf.  As this video shows, pro golf is not all glitz and glamour.  Often, more guts than glory! 

And when school’s in, Laura’s home doing a job, making a paycheck while Nick’s on the tour. Big old sacrifice here for both of them!

Nick and Laura were in our “Flipping Through Philippians” study earlier this year and I was able to hear their dreams and hope and disappointments.

But they are the kind of folks who are worthy of of our prayers.  The Hooter’s Tour is possibly not the most godly atmosphere.  Probably not like sitting in a “Flipping Through Philippians” Bible study.  But Nick talks about remaining faithful to God (and Laura) and being a true witness to his peers as he travels and plays.  He’s told me of real-life conversations with other golfers that bring tears to my eyes.

Nick and Laura are my kinda 21st Century heroes.  Serving Jesus in the real world driven by a passion that they consider a gift from God.

So, how about you and me?  Are we driven by a passion from God?  Are we "sideliners" in the game of life?  Are we willing to sacrifice for our dream? 

My prayer for Nick and Laura is that they win it all and give all the credit to a great and mighty Jesus!

20 December 2010


Lots of stuff going on in my head this last week before Christmas.  So in no particular order, here goes:

  • Reading The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson.  It is about innovation and creativity and was suggested by Alan Hirsch.  I’ve enjoyed reading over the thoughts and ideas.  If you like Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers, Tipping Point) and Seth Godin (Tribes) you’ll like this.  You can get a free e-book here.
  • I was impressed at a whole line of people at the GIVING KIOSK at Harvest Church this Sunday.  Harvest meets in the Rave Theater before the movies begin and having the kiosk in the lobby looks pretty normal.  One of the dilemmas of 21st Century church is the fact that people carry neither cash nor checks but use debit and credit cards for almost all transactions.  (Debit card transactions account for $37.9 billion or 35% of all non-cash transactions – 13% more than checks.)  It was cool to see people lined up to GIVE!
  • Following the message I heard yesterday, I was re-reading a blog post I did from January - Epiphany 2010 - about the Magi. I think it’s worth a read even now at Christmas 2010. You can go here to read it.  I think the Magi are real indicators that God is active among all peoples and that we must share the Gospel at all times with all people.
  • I have learned that if you unload the bottom rack of the dishwasher FIRST, you won’t have water from the bottom of cups dripping into the spoons.  It seems that I’ve been doing this manly task more often recently than in the past.  So, always in a learning mode (smile), this is what I’ve learned.  And as a teacher, it’s just one of those things that I thought needed passing on. (I know all women everywhere already knew this.  Don’t mock.)
  • I enjoy listening to Pandora.com. It is a wonderful listening experience.  Right now I’m grooving to Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus but earlier have listened to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, New Orleans Jazz and worship music. 
  • Globe’s Institute for Global Ministry (IGM) starts 4 January and this year we will have several virtual campuses.

11 December 2010

Idolatry and Discipleship...

My good friends Bill and Imbi Kinnon (who happen to be Canadian, but please don't hold that against them, or envy them - whichever the case may be) have this video interview with Chris Wright.  It's part of a larger work on leadership that's currently being edited.  I look forward to seeing the whole thing!

Chris Wright is my new hero.  His books The Mission of God and The Mission of God's People are fantastic and give language to what I know to be true.  He seems to be a real down-to-earth guy with an understanding of God's Heart and Mission.  Here Chris Wright repeats what I have said over and over and over. (So much so that people assume I'm a one-trick pony!) And that is: we need to - we must - we have to MAKE DISCIPLES.  The "transfer of the Faith" requires intentionality of investment in others.

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21 NIV)

Confronting Idols & Making Disciples from Bill Kinnon on Vimeo.