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By Chris Brady | Original Post
From time to time my children will ask me the question,
“Dad, if you could have any super power, what would it be?”
To which I always answer, “Teleporting!” Because it would be so amazing to just whisk myself to any spot on the globe and be there in minutes, bypassing airport security, delays, turbulence, and the immense time required to physically cart my carcass to a different geographic locale. Of course, the questions posed by such an imagined technology are interesting. For instance, if it were possible to teleport, would your clothes be able to go with you or would you go naked? Probably naked, I think, science being science. Therefore, imaging landing in your chosen spot in your birthday suit! Think of the cottage industries that would grow up around that. “Clothing shops for your landing spots!” and “Undies available immediately everywhere you land!” Amazon would have to fast-forward their drone delivery program for sure! Also, I wonder if you would be able to choose an exact set of coordinates for your landing spot? Or would it be like our commercial GPS units, with a plus or minus fifteen feet accuracy? Oh, what difficulties that would engender! You materialize out of nowhere on top of someone’s dining table (naked, remember), or in the middle of traffic.
My children have other super powers they espouse. One always seems to say “being invisible.” Another says “time travel,” or “to be able to fly.” Which always gets me thinking. Just how many super powers could there be, if one really let imagine run wild? The list can get pretty exciting:
- Time Travel (the same “naked” question arises)
- Speed Reading
- Photographic memory
- Fluent in all languages
- Being Invisible
- Immune to all Sickness
- Never needing to sleep
- Be a glutton but stay perfectly fit (like a teenager!)
- See the future
- Being in two places at once
- Mind reading
- And then there’s the whole panoply of the powers of the Avengers and Super Friends, etc.
These are fun to think about, and to add to. (Which are your favorite, and which would you most like to have, and why? Also, are there others that should be on my list?) But, it’s interesting when we realize that we already have an immense arsenal of super powers at our disposal. Our eyes are able to process hundreds of millions of inputs in mere seconds and distill it all down to usability in the brain. Our cells all are replaced annually but yet we remain the same person. And who can explain the sense of taste or smell? And what about the fact that we can just lie down for a night and wake up good as new and fully restored in the morning? The list of the physical marvels of our human physiology is almost endless, and most of it we take entirely for granted.
But the super power I would like to bring our attention to is quite different from the imagined ones above or the physical ones mentioned. For it is truly a super power when a human being acts contrary to his or her own selfish desires and tendencies. When slights, hurt feelings, wrongs, and betrayals do not result in retaliation and revenge.
Jesus taught us to love our neighbors and deny ourselves, even though we are predisposed to do just the opposite. And when we see someone actually behaving this way, being strongly meek in the face of a personal affront, forgiving transgressions and refusing to take offense, it is so amazing that it might rank right up there with the super powers mentioned above. Christians strive to do so in order to be obedient to Christ’s commands, and to shine light to glorify their savior. How others do it (and they occasionally do), is beyond me. But pragmatically speaking, it is a precept of effective leadership to be slow to anger and quick to forgive, to be longsuffering and hard to offend. As anyone who has ever spent much time in a position of leadership would attest, leaders carry an unfair load. They are attacked, maligned, criticized, and condemned by “lesser” people who are not at their level of performance, who don’t carry their weight of responsibility, and who aren’t privy to their purview of the information. In other words, leaders will be treated in ways that probably justify retaliation and retribution. And the world cheers when “tough leaders” strike back in righteous indignation. But the cheers are really not admiration, but chirps of relief that the person on a pedestal is just as base as them, subject to the same flaws and pride. Those cheers are the sound of misery loving company.
But when a leader rises above these temptations, and demonstrates true restraint even at great cost to him or her self, it is deeply respected by those who notice, even if it doesn’t make headlines. Remember, villains actually respect the one wearing the white hat, for they know they were incapable of staying clean themselves, and they marvel that someone else could do so.
If you want to be a good leader, you’ve got to rise above your selfish demand for your rights to be respected, and instead die to self for a bigger cause and for the people for whom you are responsible.
It is not easy. But it is powerful. In fact, it’s a super power.
March 22, 2017 by Eric Gieger
If influencing others is a key component of leadership, then Christian leadership will be about influencing people spiritually, leading them in a direction that helps them become more like Christ.
I’ve always liked Henry and Richard Blackaby’s definition of spiritual leadership:
“The spiritual leader’s task is to move people from where they are
to where God wants them to be.”
Most leadership books focus more on principles than people, and this is one reason so many of these books seem out-of-date so quickly.
To think of leadership in terms of timeless principles is easy, but we do well to remember that the tasks of exercising leadership and exerting influence do not take place in a vacuum. They are by nature contextual; that is, they require the use of wisdom in applying principles to various and often-changing contexts.
In this sense, then, Christian leadership is never timeless. Instead, it is a timely application of God-given wisdom regarding specific decisions that must be made in particular moments in time.
In this post, I would like to focus on an essential but sometimes neglected component of Christian leadership: the ability to know “what time it is” in order to have a clear understanding of the times. There are four spheres in which Christian leaders should know “the time”: biblically, personally, organizationally, and culturally.
The Christian leader will stand apart from conceptions of leadership that are worldly. How? By the way he or she inhabits the world of the Bible.
Since Christians are called to live within the framework of a biblical worldview that takes one from creation to new creation, Christian leaders must influence others from within this grand narrative.
The Old Testament offers us several examples of leaders who “understood the times” in which they lived and knew “what time it was” biblically. The New Testament adds the element of living in the “time between the times,” in the already/not yet of God’s kingdom. Knowing where we are in the grand sweep of history, according to Scripture, impacts our ethical decisions.
While it is of the utmost importance for a leader to understand biblical teaching on history and the future, one must not lose sight of how important it is to understand one’s own personal story within that overarching narrative.
The Christian leader must be a student not only of world history from a biblical perspective but also of his or her personal journey. In this way, the leader is best equipped to make good decisions about how to serve God in a particular time, utilizing specific gifts.
Knowing “what time it is” personally is essential for making wise decisions, and these decisions require a deep understanding of one’s personal life circumstances, personal gifting, and personal calling.
Once we know “what time it is” from a biblical and personal standpoint, we must consider the organization and the people we are leading.
Understanding the life and times of an organization is essential for wise decisions; it involves understanding the current state of the organization, how best to communicate the present challenges to others, and envisioning and promoting the future.
Until we understand the particular moment one’s organization is in, whether it be a church or other ministry, we will not know what to do.
A fourth element of Christian leadership concerns understanding the current context in which one lives. It means one knows “what time it is” culturally and how one’s culture has arrived at its current moment.
The impetus for understanding one’s cultural moment arises from the Great Commission itself, which has an eschatological dimension that must not be ignored. After all, the Great Commission involves making the announcement of King Jesus and leading disciples to obey everything He has commanded. Only within the grand narrative of Scripture does this command make sense, and only in a current cultural context can this command be obeyed.
Not only does the Great Commission challenge cultural views of world history that do not align with a biblical worldview, the gospel itself is historical to the core, a record of historical events that impinge upon one’s current cultural setting. A biblically formed view of the world, often described as a “biblical worldview,” is vital to fulfilling the Great Commission.
2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
2 Timothy 2:2
March 7, 2017 by
When ministry leaders start to consider an intentional plan for developing leaders, inevitably they get to this question. The answer to the question will dramatically impact how they execute leadership development. Here is the big question about leadership development for church leaders: What will be centralized?
Some churches centralize everything.
They appoint someone to oversees all volunteer recruiting, and that person stewards the process that places new volunteers in different ministries through the church. Leaders of ministry departments, such as groups, kids, and students, don’t engage in training their leaders other than inviting those serving in their ministry to training events that the whole church offers. The advantage of this approach is consistency. The disadvantage is training often lacks contextual application and ministry leaders can lose a sense of responsibility for development.
Some churches decentralize everything.
If development happens, it happens at a ministry level and not the church level. The ministry directors are responsible for training the leaders in their specific ministry. One ministry may offer lots of intentional development while another offers nothing. The advantage of this approach is that the training is contextual and ministry leaders are close to the action. The disadvantage is the church can really become several mini-churches with a completely different approach to ministry because people are developed differently.
There is another way, a way that can maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of the previous two approaches.
In leadership development: Centralize the approach, decentralize the execution.
A centralized approach means the ministry leaders agree to a common framework for leadership development, such as a leadership pipeline, so that the church is moving in the same direction. A centralized approach includes consistent language and literature, meaning, what people are called (leader, coach, director, etc.) and what people read are consistent.
And then execution is decentralized. When execution is decentralized, responsibility and ownership spreads. Ministry leaders embrace responsibility to equip leaders for ministry.
“What will be centralized?” is a question ministry leaders must wrestle with. Consider centralizing the approach and decentralizing the execution.
by Gene Bulmer
As I work with individuals and groups within the Christian community, particularly Church Men’s Groups & Bible Studies, I inevitably run into the notion that we’re a broken people. I meet men who wallow in their brokenness; who think that their brokenness is unique to them, who think that brokenness is simply a part of the Christian walk that must be endured…however painful or who don’t experience Jesus Christ as a real, flesh & blood Savior and friend who not only can, but WANTS to heal them from their afflictions both real & imagined. The notion that Jesus is simply a biblical concept/construct is not a useful or accurate notion when it comes to our spiritual walk.
And, while the brokenness of mankind is certainly true: meaning we’re all fallen, sinful and the owners of “desperately wicked” hearts (Jer. 17:9) – there’s a difference between remaining broken and choosing a path of mental, emotional & spiritual repair & renewal, so that you may strengthen & gird yourself against not only the arrows of the enemy, but from your own self-defeating & limiting Self-Talk.
As a quick caveat – while this renewal process is certainly possible working with the Holy Spirit alone, it is highly advisable to tackle it with either a mentor or an accountability program where the process of iron sharpening iron can occur. Since it’s our minds that create the myriads of problems, false beliefs and self-limiting fears that can so easily entangle us; relying solely upon your own mind (which is frequently the very source of the problem) to deliver you into a better place, isn’t the best strategy.
So where do we begin? – with Self-Talk. What’s that, you ask? It’s the conscious & unconscious messages you repeat, over & over again in your mind. And, while I can’t cover the waterfront on the topic of Self-Talk in a single blog-entry – I can sketch out the beginning of a solution, as well as a path by which you can begin to unravel incongruous, defeating thought-patterns & begin to realize that you’re a magnificent creation made in God’s image and destined to achieve great things for the Kingdom!
Two books which delve deeper in this subject are Vince Poscente’s The Ant & the Elephant (conscious vs. subconscious brain partnership) and Tommy Newberry’s The 4:8 Principle (an exposition on Philippians 4:8 & what we should fill our minds with).
Belief & Trust
So now, the BIG question. If you profess and follow Jesus Christ…do you believe and trust Him? You probably believe that He died for your sins – but what about life on earth? Do you believe what He said about that?
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2.
60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Does that sound like Jesus is describing one who is eternally broken…or wallowing in self-pity & negative self-talk? It sure doesn’t sound like that to me!
Brokenness as Training Regimen
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
A great cloud of witnesses: could that be taken to mean other believers, who also labor under the same circumstances, limitations, temptations & distractions as ourselves? That’s certainly something to consider. If circumstances affected us all in the same manner, then we all would either be winners…or hapless losers sinking in the mire of this world. But we’re not. So what’s the difference? Discipline? Better genes? Personality? God’s Grace? A closer walk?
First Corinthians tells us that
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
So we all have similar initial reactions to the “sin that so easily ensnares” (Hebrews). But where do we take it from there? God has provided a way of escape (1 Cor), but isn’t going to magically free us from the chains. We, as professors of faith in Christ, must also exercise a bit of determination to “lay aside every weight…AND the sin”.
Lay it aside. As in cast it off. As in ignore it; shield our eyes from it. Or develop an accountability system to enable us to gather together & support one another in not doing the things we ought not do (and, conversely DO the things we ought be doing).
It can be likened to a training regimen. We’d like to lose weight; or shed a few pounds. We enter into an exercise program and begin to workout. Yet our sedentary lifestyle attempts to call us back. Back to bed, back to the bad habits that led to our out-of-shape-ness, back to the couch & the remote – back to (fill in the blank).
But God’s built us for something better:
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
2 Corinthians 4:7
If we have the power of God within us…and believe it, then we should be able to develop some discipline and leverage it towards the dreams which God has instilled within us in order to attain those dreams & goals…to the glory of God.
If God’s Word is truth, it should apply to every area of our life. We should use it in much the same way as one would use a pair of eyeglasses…to see. A sort of lens by which we see the world as well as our place in it. C.S. Lewis said; “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
Suppose we start there: by applying the truth of God’s Word to every area of our lives…especially the portions that seem bent?
Seeing our bent, battered and sometimes broken lives through the lens of God’s Word or through the eyes of our brother & friend Jesus Christ, might we acknowledge God as the narrator of our lives? We certainly have free will to accept or reject that notion. But if we, for the moment, accept it, would we believe that God, in His love for us, would want us to overcome the obstacle (or the sin) that seems to so easily ensnare us?
God, as narrator, would certainly write a better ending to our life’s story than we would…or could. We certainly have to play our part, including all the struggles –but we must trust God as the narrator:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight
Proverbs 3: 5-6
Straight…as in no longer bent!
Can we trust that God has only the best intentions for us?
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jerimiah 29: 11-13
Thus, part of the discipline we must exercise is to trust God and search for Him. Searching, in part, means turning over ALL areas of our lives to His sovereignty; ALL areas! Even the ones in which we think He cannot intercede: areas of unbelief:
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9: 15-24
Often; correction, almost ALWAYS, our areas of greatest struggle are our areas of unbelief. We must ask ourselves if we truly trust God…fully…to help us, as an accountability partner to help us overcome those areas of unbelief.
Ah, but do we have the mental capacity to achieve that? Let’s see what God’s Word says about that:
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
2 Tim 1:7
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
- We’ve been given “sound minds” – so there’s no excuse, and
- It’s our job to consistently renew those sound minds – sort of a spiritual PDCA (a Plan, Do, Check & Adjust methodology), with an emphasis on the ‘adjust’ part: adjust/renew/repeat, adjust/renew/repeat, etc.
The idea of sound minds implies intelligence & logic. However we’re primarily emotional beings. Enter emotional intelligence. And, while there’s not enough room in a single blog-post to delve into the depths of that topic, emotional intelligence is primarily the exercise of logic over emotion: overriding our reaction to generate a measured response. In other words, the ability to think through your supposed “broken” or “bent” nature and realize that God has provided all the tools necessary for you to trust Him; allowing Him to straighten those bent habitual paths & emotional bi-ways.
In literature. the narrative mode (also known as the mode of narration or narrator mode) is the set of methods the author of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical story uses to convey the plot to the audience.
A friend of mine has a 12 year old daughter who recently relayed to us the story of being trapped in a type of Alice-In-Wonderland dream – where she was being chased & couldn’t find a way out of her impending predicament. She told us she ran & ran & tried to hide…all to no avail. Then, when she thought all hope was lost, she told us that she realized she was in a dream and was actually the one in control of her immediate choices & circumstances. At that point, she said, she switched to ‘Narrator Mode’, wrote a happy ending and got out safely!
I told her that was brilliant! Not only as a method of dream escape – but as a strategy for the circumstances of our lives. Life will knock you down. But it’s up to you as to whether or not you get back up. Remaining down feeds into a broken mindset; getting back up acknowledges the bruise & bent-ness…but says “this is part of God’s training process for my life and, through a process of belief and trust in Him…I WILL prevail!” Ultimate success in life is a function of how quickly we can cycle through this process of frustration & defeat to move onto our destiny and the plans God has for our lives.
So, employing emotional intelligence & some discipline, switch to narrative mode and write the ending you’d prefer. And, with that in mind, I wish you “happy editing” – please let me know how that begins to work out for you!
The following is a poem I first heard on the radio & was narrated by Ravi Zacharias. Ravi did not write it, nor did he know the author. It’s chalked up to “anonymous” & captures the essence of the purposes for which we are built.
On Molding Clay
When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And which every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out-
God knows what He’s about.
Are we equipped to serve those to whom God sends us?
From a Leadership Lens perspective?
Leading & mentoring others is hard work. Often because the mentee will struggle & fight against the change you’re attempting to bring about – and you must be ready, with a tool-chest full of instruments to prod, cajole, push, pull, challenge, at times exhort, and love your mentee back onto the path for which they were called.
Therefore read, listen & associate with the books, audios & other leaders to hone your mentoring skills to the point where you’re equipped for every good work for which God has created you. ___________________________________________________________________
–from Blackaby.net, February 22nd, 2017
“So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”
Jesus gave His disciples the power to cast out demons and to perform miracles of healing (Matt. 10:8). He gave them His authority to minister to people, yet they became so self-centered that they lost the power to do the work of God. When God sent a father with his epileptic son to them for healing, they failed miserably. They were so concerned with position and status (Mark 9:32-35) that they lost their focus on what God wanted to do through them.
Jesus’ response to His disciples included some of the harshest words ever to come from His mouth. He called His own disciples “unbelieving” and “perverse” and questioned how much longer He had to endure them! Why? Because they were supposed to be on mission with Him to bring salvation to others, but they had become so disoriented to Him that they were spiritually powerless, lacking the faith to bring physical and spiritual comfort to those God had sent to them.
God ought to be able to send a hurting person to any child of His and expect that they will be helped. Like the disciples, we can become so preoccupied with our own ambitions and distracted by the busyness of our lives that we become ineffective in ministering to those whom God sends to us. It is even possible to become so involved in religious activity that we are of no help to anyone. Regularly take inventory of your life to see if you are being a faithful steward of every life God sends to you.
Don’t lose focus. Rebuild with one hand while keeping a “sword” in your other hand.
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.
It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan[a] the citadel, 2 that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”
4 So it was, when I…
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