Leadership thoughts along the way today

 

 

Key relationships and multiplication

I’ve thought about, taught about, and written a bit on key relationships. I have thought about key influencers in my own life.

The key to multiplication and significance is found in relationships. Who am I learning from? Who I am pouring into?

Who are my spiritual fathers and mothers? I have two lists going currently. I have a list of those who have been foundational to my life and ministry. They may not be around any longer, but they formed me early on. Then, there are those who are influencing me now.

Who am I spiritual father to? Who do I give my time to? What am I imparting to them?

We need intentional relationships to develop significant lives. Learn from one another. Pour into others. Let it be multiplied over time.

Turning bitter to sweet

In 2 Kings 2 there is the story of Elisha and the bitter water. There was a place where he lived and the water was poisonous. It was not safe. (Who knew Elisha visited Flint, Michigan?)

Elisha had the inquirers put salt into a jar and toss the salt into the water. The water became “sweet”, or life giving, again.

We may face situations that are poisonous. We face a tough work situation, family situation, church situation and the waters are poisonous. Nothing good is happening. The question becomes, “Can the bitter become sweet?”

It is easy to join the bitter. It is prophetic to turn the bitter into sweet.

This is not about ignoring the poison. It is about changing the poison. It takes a prophetic, Spirit-filled leader to bring that kind of change.

Be that kind of leader. 

KEYS:

  1. We must be deep in Christ. When we are deep in him, sweet “water” can flow from us. If we are not plunging the depths of Christ ourselves, the bitterness can infect us. We have two ways to grow: grow into bitterness, or grow into a sweet depth of Christ. It is easier to grow in bitterness if the sweet depth of Christ is not there first.
  2. Through the Spirit, we are enabled to see what is POSSIBLE. Elisha could see what was possible even though the presence situation was bad.
  3. Prophetic action may seem “salty” at times. I’m just using the picture from the story, but there are answers to turn a situation around that aren’t always “tasty.” Sometimes the prophetic action seems “salty,” or abrasive, or rude, or doesn’t correlate to the end result. But, the prophetic leader follows the lead of the Spirit, acts, and the result is life.

When we came to our current ministry 18 years ago, the waters weren’t “sweet.” Over the process we’ve seen the Lord turn possible bitterness into sweet waters of life. We’ve had to be “salty” at times as leaders. But as we’ve dug roots of ministry here, leadership has become so deep in Christ, there abides a life-giving element of leadership that pushes out all attempts of poison.

Life is possible. Change is possible. We don’t have to abide in bitterness. We don’t have to ignore the poisonous situation. We can bring the change needed.

Questions on influence

In the past week I’ve been looking back (again) at the voices that have influenced my life as a minister, as a believer, as a person.

Two big questions:

  1. What are the top 5 books that have deeply impacted your life as a leader and/or believer?
  2. Who are the top ten influencers in your life?

I am challenged in both questions to keep my numbers DOWN. I can list so many more books and so many more people.

Who is helping YOU grow in life? How is that happening on an intentional basis?

Why I pastor a great church!

Our leadership team. Intrepid warriors!
Our leadership team. Intrepid warriors!
Ida, one day before her 82nd birthday, on a zip line.
Ida, one day before her 82nd birthday, on a zip line.

In our small church, we had 17 leaders go on our retreat. Among our leaders is Ida. She is a board member. On the day before her 82nd birthday she got on the zip lines with 10 others. She is fearless! 

This is the church I love!

This is not the day to shrink back

So don’t throw away your confidence—it brings a great reward. 36 You need to endure so that you can receive the promises after you do God’s will.
37 In a little while longer,
the one who is coming will come and won’t delay;
38 but my righteous one will live by faith,
and my whole being won’t be pleased with anyone who shrinks back.
39 But we aren’t the sort of people who timidly draw back and end up being destroyed. We’re the sort of people who have faith so that our whole beings are preserved. (Heb. 10:35-39, CEB)

We are in a day when the Body of Christ needs a new boldness. I know I need more boldness. I need to march forward in the promises of God, boldly declaring the promises he has given me.

Lord, do not let us shrink back! Let us declare your strong word!

This has been our theme in our leadership retreat this year. We need to move forward with BOLDNESS! Hear us, O God!

The difference between success and fruitfulness

There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available to large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through through touching one another’s wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness. — Henri Nouwen

The Mark of a Leader

2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. (1 Sam. 22:2, NIV)

The mark of a great leader isn’t that they seem to be able to hire great people. The mark of a great leader is that they take the people they have and MAKE them great people.

The Journey to Obedience

I commented the other day about the move from success to significance to obedience and how there aren’t many leadership books on “obedience.”

While that is true, and it’s probably true because generally we only want to read about “successful” people, I think there are some great examples.

The problem is obedience has such a high cost, we have examples we can read, but we don’t call them “leadership” books. Also, we read them and often say, “What a great example,” and leave it at that. We don’t actually want to go DO what those folks DID!

Some great examples:

Henri Nouwen. His incredible obedience to leave high profile academic positions to take care of mentally disabled adults is a powerful story. Nouwen’s writings are considered “contemplative,” not “leadership,” but there isn’t a better “leadership” book than In the Name of Jesus. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Many Christians have read The Cost of Discipleship, but we aren’t so ready to face the issues of our day like Bonhoeffer faced in his day. He died for his cause.

Adoniram Judson. Missionary to Burna. Lost his wife and many of his kids to disease on the mission field.

Calvin Olson. Never wrote a book. Pioneered churches in one of the hardest Muslim areas of the world.

Come to think of it, maybe we don’t have as many “leadership” books on obedience because so many people just go OBEY. Maybe they write later. Maybe they are written about later.

The place of obedience just isn’t our highest priority at times. Yet, that is where you find the presence of God.

Henri Nouwen