Jesus’ Silence and Solitude

JesusSolitudeThe priority of Jesus’ solitude and silence is everywhere in the Gospels. It’s how he began his ministry. It’s how he made important decisions. It’s how he dealt with troubling emotions like grief. It’s how he dealt with the constant demands of his ministry and cared for his soul. It’s how he taught his disciples. It’s how he prepared for important ministry events. It’s how he prepared for his death on the cross.

Jesus’ solitude is how he went deeper in his love-relationship with the God he knew as “Abba”.* Won’t you take a chronological journey through the Gospel of Mark and see where He stopped for silence & solitude?

Download/Print the Worksheet
Jesus’ Solitude & Silence

*Special Thanks to Bill Gaultiere who outlined most of this concept and content for us.  I did enhance the Bible Passages through the Gospels and made it a self-study worksheet.  You can see Bill’s article online at http://www.soulshepherding.org/2013/02/jesus-solitude-and-silence/ 

How do you Leverage Events for Maximum Learning?

A catalytic leader that I have had the privilege of getting to know over the last few years is Steve Moore*. He put together this helpful video and process to help learners leverage events for maximum learning.  I really appreciate this video and process. I curated his content…and gave you a tool below outlining his process.  Don’t skip the video though…it’s worth your time!

Posted at: http://missionexus.org/leveraging-events-for-maximum-learning-archive/

A blog post on Fast Company’s web site shared about a group of young entrepreneurs who filled a large Silicon Valley auditorium to hear a speech by Mark Zuckerberg. He shared his perspective on the future of Internet business along with lessons he has learned on the journey so far.

It is no surprise the room was full of twenty-somethings eager to hear what the Facebook founder had to say. According to eyewitness accounts of the meeting, two older, legendary Silicon Valley investors seated in the front row stood out. But not for the reason you might think. It wasn’t their silver hair that made them look out of place. It was the fact they were the only people in the room taking notes.

The two most successful people in the room, whose names are synonymous with money and power in Silicon Valley, were the only ones taking notes. Maybe that explains why they are successful?…

 

Here are the process questions Steve outlines:

Pre Event Questions:

1) What is the Best Resource I could recommend to others and why did I find it helpful?

2) What is the most important ______________ I need to process?

3) What questions will help me best engage with others for learning?

During Event Questions:

1) What Learning choices do I need to make tomorrow?

2) Have I spent 5 minutes with the schedule to plan my time effectively?

3) Where is the networking space? How will I use it?

4) What is the most effective way to harvest the information? How will you capture learning?

5) Who do I need to seek out during this event?

Immediately After Event Questions:

1) What is the most important idea to consider?

2) Most important relationship to pursue?

3) Most important conversation I need to have?

4) Most important decision I need to make?

5) Most important action I need to take?

Free Tool >> Download a Word Doc  or  PDF of these questions

 


SteveMoore*As executive director of Missio Nexus, Steve Moore put together many leadership resources which have been helpful to me. This year Steve transitioned into a new role with NexLeader…and you should check that stuff out too! Find Steve on Twitter

My Highlights from Leading Cross-Culturally by Sherwood Lingenfelter

One of the areas of great growth and learning for me since I’ve been with Encompass World Partners has been in cross-cultural relationships. One of the experts in that area, and former board member with Encompass is Sherwood Lingenfelter. I encountered his book Ministering Cross-Culturally and learned a lot!

I have poked around in Lingenfelter’s more recent book Leading Cross-Culturally primarily because of our implementation of coalitions which are an architecture for everyone everywhere to engage in mission! It will be best if multiple cultures are involved, and it will also be a stretching experience for everyone involved.

Last night I was transfixed by chapter 8 on “Power-Giving Leadership.” Lingenfelter walked through the sticky Paul, Philemon, Onesimus situation. What a beautiful example of Paul giving away his position and power and empowering Philemon to lead and be like Jesus. This study provides an excellent contribution to Biblical leadership!

 

Lingenfelter’s definition for the book: Leading cross-culturally, then, is inspiring people who come from two or more cultural traditions to participate with you (the leader or leadership team) in building a community of trust and then to follow you and be empowered by you to achieve a compelling vision of faith.

LeadingCrossCulturally-coverBelow are a string of some of what I found to be the best quotes in my reading so far:

The most important part of empowering new leaders is to support them in the early stages when they need help and to release them as soon as they can walk in the ministry by themselves. Consider the analogy of a toddler learning to walk: as soon as the child takes steps alone, we encourage the child to keep going. Some people are very cautious about releasing young leaders; this is a serious mistake. To release is not to abandon but to let the young leader learn to walk. It is vitally important that we allow young leaders to take halting steps, allow them to stumble, even fall, and then, as mentors, encourage them to get up and try again. We can always support them and help lift them up after they have fallen. But they will never be successful leaders unless we release them to play the game, to do the work for which we have equipped them.

The focus of power-giving leadership is to follow Christ and, in so doing, to lead others to follow Christ. In the patterns of “normal” cultural life, our power and skills may produce leaders but probably won’t produce followers of Christ.

“Giving Philemon the freedom to choose is also a vision to grow (‘I know you’ll do even more than I ask’). Part of empowering leadership is to remind people of who they are and the way their (potential) actions are consistent with their identity in the Lord”

The power-seeking leader uses position and authority to exert mastery over others. In this situation, Paul used a letter to engage in a power exchange with Philemon. He had Onesimus in his custody, and he could have easily written a different letter that would have asserted Philemon’s obligations to him and induced Philemon to release Onesimus to Paul without ever letting Onesimus out of his sight. Paul understood that if he took that tactic, it would be a false path to acquire something that he desired. He would pervert the relationship that God had given him with Philemon, using his position as the senior brother in Christ to advance his own selfish interest. In doing this, Paul would have, in fact, undermined Philemon’s faith and the work of the grace of God in their relationship together.

Jesus must become the center of who we are…

To restore our human psyche and relationships to the will and purpose of God, Jesus must become the center of who we are and replace our quest for power. Only as we are motivated by the Holy Spirit and through the living Word of God can we relate to one another within the structures of human society to accomplish the purpose of God.

I will first argue that we must put Jesus “in the place of power as a proper source of healing and will”

The task and the routines of daily work always erode our mission and vision for the ministry. They also erode our spiritual values. The question is not whether our values are eroding; team values are always eroding. The question is, what are we doing as leaders to renew our sense of mission, to restore our vision, and to renew the values that are critical for multicultural teamwork? Our hope for effective leadership and ministries lies in aligning ourselves with the mission and work of God in a lost and broken world.

Leaders in particular must surrender their obsession to control and achieve, through worship at the cross.

While the process will be difficult, with periods of intense testing and struggle, building covenant community is a process of refocusing from doing what we want to being the people of God.

In the end the work of the kingdom depends on our obedience to the King. God cannot rule in people who are disobedient and in conflict with one another. God rules as we obey God and love one another.

Every leader who expects and hopes to be effective in leading cross-culturally must give repeated attention to the mission, the vision, and the values that are essential to kingdom work. Every team meeting should include some intentional renewal of mission, vision, and/or values. As soon as that component of the team is lost, the mission and the vision will be lost to the routines and the pressures of doing our daily work. Every case study that we have considered here has suffered because of a loss of mission, vision, and/or values among the people who were part of the multicultural team process.

Saying, “I was wrong,” is more powerful than saying “I’m sorry.”

One of my colleagues, Janice Strength, notes that saying “I was wrong” is far more powerful than saying “I am sorry.” She notes that we often push children to say “I am sorry” when they and we know they are not. To acknowledge “I was wrong” is to take responsibility for the action we have done.

I remind students in my classes that we are first emotional creatures and only secondarily rational. As we respond to crises or stressful situations in leadership, we rarely operate based on reason and rational processes. When things get tough, we first respond emotionally—frustration, anger, fear, disappointment, and betrayal. These emotions often get the best of us, leading us to seek power to protect ourselves, which in turn undermines the will and purpose of God.

I remember praying, “Please remove this person from leadership and give me someone else who can do the job more effectively.” God’s answer to this prayer was, “Absolutely no; don’t you understand my work?” I learned over a period of time that God loves weak people and that God intends leaders to work with the people whom God gives to them.

Gathered and Scattered…can you have it both ways?!?!

I like to describe our church @LosAltosGrace as having a “conventional church skin” and an “organic church soul.” Yes we have a Sunday Morning Worship Service, Sunday School, Youth Groups, and even a Christian School. To the casual observer, we have a very conventional church. But the Biblical principles which are foundational for how our church truly functions are much more organic than conventional. This kind of “animal” can be difficult for some to understand.

One of the things that we have been moving into for the past ten years is seeing the “groupings” of our church family as “mini-churches” or actual “organic expressions of the church.” Those groupings are adult Sunday School classes, young adult ministry, and even our choir! A couple of my friends, Phil Helfer (one of our pastors) along with organic church leader Neil Cole co-authored an excellent book called Church Transfusion which deals with this very topic.

Well, last weekend our church had a family meeting…just like all families do. We talked about what has gone on in the life and ministry of our church in the recent past. We also talked about money and about how God has provided and what it seems He is leading us to do. One of the things that members of our family have started doing is saving towards buying new carpet for the auditorium. We actually took this as an indication that we could invite others to save for that too, and when it’s fully funded, we can do the work. (There are a few other things that we itemized to help upgrade our facility, primarily in the auditorium)

In honest questioning, a very faithful and active member of our spiritual family asked, “If the new normal for our church is “organic” and with churches in homes, why are we renovating the auditorium? You can’t have it both ways!”

Wow, what a great question! A very important question! A question I wrestled with and prayed about for much of the week. I finally was able to string together my thoughts and sent the following response:

I’ve thought and prayed about how to respond to your email. I didn’t want to do so with haste, and I hope that my delay hasn’t offended you.

LookingBothWaysIn short, I do think you can have it both ways. Our facility is merely a facility, but it gets A LOT of use. It houses a preschool and an elementary school whose ministry is important and needs these upgrades as well. Our auditorium is used by our church family at least 52 times each year on Sunday mornings. That is a value for us as a family. It’s a touchpoint for our family — a time touch base each week and do some important things together: worship together with other saints, expose ourselves to the Scripture, connect with others in our family relationally and provide an entry point for others who are looking to find God or a spiritual family. Some people can make it each week, some can’t. It is a gathering time that is an important value. It isn’t the sum total of who we are as a spiritual family though. Our Los Altos Grace family is scattered throughout Southern California. Each of them would know that right now the time when they can connect with the largest percentage of our family would be a Sunday morning.

Families have this same phenomenon. Mealtime for example. Supper maybe served at 5:30 or 6pm each night. Everyone in our family knows that, but sometimes Mindi can’t make it because she has class, or one of the kids have a ball game. We have a rhythm and a habit as a family. We set the table, pray, eat, talk about our days, laugh and we clean up after. When someone isn’t at the table we miss them. We don’t doubt their part in our family nor do we think they are being rebellious. We trust that as they can, they will be at the table with us. We like the gathering of our family. It’s a habit, a rhythm, but it doesn’t define our family. Our kids are part of our family when gathered, or when scattered!

I’d suggest that the church is the same…scattered and gathered. Not one or the other. There are thousands and thousands, make that millions of people in Southern California who will never come to our Sunday gathering. Our charge is to go and make disciples…so we are seeking to do that. To “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” and not to forsake the assembling of yourselves together (Hebrews 10). We want to be all things to all men so that by all possible means God might save some. We don’t do this perfectly, or maybe even that well. But it is our calling as disciples, and as a church. Some of our gatherings will be in homes, or parks or schools. We will probably always have a Sunday morning gathering at our humble facility at 6565 Stearns Street.

Also we hope that our spiritual family will become scattered and decentralized, much in the same way as our kids grow up and move away. They start families of their own. This is true of you as your children are scattered from your dinner table now. It is a maturity thing, and we want to see God continue to scatter our spiritual family as well.

I value your investment and leadership in our church family. I’ve learned much from you as you faithfully love our Lord and do His work… Thanks for your desire to call our spiritual family to a heart-felt and obedient worship of our amazing Jesus. I hope that is helpful for you and I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee and talk about this more if you want to.

___

What do you think?

A Footwasher to the Footwashers online @ChristianityToday

A Footwasher to the Footwashers | Christianity Today

The first shall be last, and the last, first.

by Ken Barnes 

The mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, respectfully approached Jesus. She had a small request for Jesus. “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom” (Matt. 20:21). It sounds like a typical Jewish mother’s request (“My boys are good boys!”). She wasn’t asking much, only that one could be the assistant Savior and the other the associate Lord. Jesus must have thought that he had heard it all now.

Jesus replied in a straightforward fashion, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” James and John chime in, “We can” (v. 22). Their response proves they are pretty clueless.

The other ten disciples get wind that mama has been politicking for the “Sons of Thunder.” The disciples start to make some noise of their own. “When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers”—probably because they also wanted those positions (v. 24). Pride and vanity have a tendency to bring to the surface more pride and vanity. So we see the picture—all the disciples jockeying for position, working one-upmanship. They were a pretty ratty bunch.

The First Shall Be Last and the Last Shall Be First

Talk about a teachable moment. Jesus, the master teacher, was not going to miss this opportunity. But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave” (v. 25-27, NLT).

What a paradigm change! I wish I had been there to see the look on their faces. He had just described to them an upside-down leadership style. If you want to be a leader, become a servant; do what others are not willing to do. If you want to be first among the leaders, become a slave (a bond servant), not embraced with a legalistic obligation, but born of a free choice motivated by love. In this commitment there was no free agency; it was a lifetime of voluntary indentured service.

Remember, the Pharisees, the religious leadership of the day, modeled a different kind of leadership. They loved the best place in the synagogue. They loved to be noticed in the market place and for others to recognize them and say, “Hello, Rabbi.” The disciples must have been tempted to think that when their movement succeeds, it would be nice to occupy the best seats and to be noticed by the people. But after this little discourse by Jesus, they might have been thinking, Maybe I should rethink this leadership thing.

Finally, Jesus reveals to them the hinge that would support this radical service. That hinge would be the willingness to give up their lives. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (v. 28). At the core of all authentic service is a relinquishment. No, for most of us it will not be our physical lives, but in true service there is always the aspect of giving up what we want in order to do what he wants. How did this teaching go over with his disciples? Let’s fast-forward to the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth to answer this question.

The Secret Weapon

The scene is the last Passover meal that Jesus would share with the men he had picked to carry on his work here on earth. He knows their hearts and understands that they have a long way to go to apply his truth to their lives. He needed an object lesson that would demonstrate the leadership principles previously outlined. His disciples had been with him three and a half years. They had watched him raise people from the dead. He had touched people’s mouths and the mute spoke. Ears were opened and the deaf began to hear. They were amazed as the seas obeyed him. Yet, it hadn’t brought the change in their lives the Lord had sought. He needed a secret weapon that would not only change them, but also be a tool to reach the world. This was the last interaction with his disciples to etch upon their minds the image by which he was to be remembered. What would it be?

“Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him” (John 13:1-5).

Jesus takes a common towel and washes the disciples’ feet. That night he must have shaken Hell. Demons must have shuddered when they pondered what would happen if this mindset replaced the mentality of the world—this system of the world that is under the “control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), which says you are important according to position, possessions, or posture in life. Jesus blew a hole right in the center of this mentality by the most valuable taking the role of the least valuable.

A Footwasher to the Footwashers

I worked with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) for 17 years, 8 of those in Kona, Hawaii, where Loren and Darlene Cunningham, co-founders of YWAM, lived. On several occasions I heard Darlene say that God had called her to be a “footwasher to the footwashers.” When Loren needed to be away to take care of the vast responsibilities God had given him, Darlene was home taking care of the children, always with a positive attitude. I watched her spend untold hours counseling and encouraging those of us who were called to minister. We needed encouragement. Being logistical workers and not directly reaching the lost, we sometimes viewed ourselves as second-class missionaries. Darlene encouraged us by speaking worth and value into our lives both in relation to who we were and what we did. Through her life and example, she helped us esteem the high position of service to which God had called us. Like Jesus, she was willing to humble herself to lift others up.

I think we might be a bit surprised when God gives out rewards for our earthly deeds (Matt. 16:27). We might find high on his list of tasks, child-rearing responsibilities, washing socks, or championing others even though it placed us out of the glow of the limelight. I would not be the least bit surprised if on that day we have some shocked people when they finally realize that in serving God, it is not the height of the task or even its breadth that impresses God. It is the depth of our love for Christ—the motivation for our service—which catches the eye of our Father.


Read the original article here Copyright © 2013
Ken Barnes is the author of The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places (YWAM Publishing).

 

A Leadership Lesson from Charlotte’s Web by Kurt Miller

Charlottes Web

Great post from one of my favorite people on the planet.

In his book Xealots, Dave Gibbons reflects on the nature of true success as a leader:

Charlotte’s Web is a wonderful little children’s story by author E. B. White about a spider named Charlotte who lives in a barn just above the stall of a pig named Wilbur. Wilbur is worried that once he grows fat enough, the farmer is going to turn him into bacon. It’s a valid concern.

Charlotte and Wilbur develop a close friendship, and as Wilbur grows larger, Charlotte uses all of her resources to try to rescue Wilbur. She writes messages in her web to convince the farm’s owners that Wilbur is a pig worth saving. The story builds to the final chapter titled “The Moment of Triumph.”

So what was Charlotte’s moment of triumph?

As the story….  >> Read the rest here 

http://kurtamiller.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/a-lesson-from-charlottes-web/

 

World Changer @JimHocking @LosAltosGrace Sunday 11/11

ICDI

One of the people in my circles who is making the most difference in our world is Jim Hocking. This humble man just wanted to make a difference in the lives of the people he grew up with in the Central African Republic. I’m so glad that we can have him with us @LosAltosGrace tomorrow! If you want to find out more about Jim’s Story…and ICDI’s Story too, check out this video!

You should read the story of Marcellin in the November E-Newsletter from ICDI!

ICDI
November E-Newsletter from ICDI

 

Rethinking Leadership by Curtis Sergeant

Insightful and experienced strategist Curtis Sergeant shares about leadership…

Rethinking Leadership

Therefore, since ministry is not only for the “mature” but for all of us who follow Christ, all of us are “leaders” in some sense of the word. In the church we tend to think of leaders as those who serve in a role of one or more of the five-fold gifts in Ephesians 4:11-12, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; or else in terms of the officers of the church, bishops/pastors, elders, or deacons. We tend to have an attitude that leaders in the church must be mature believers. This view is fine as long as we remember that is one type of leadership. In another sense, God has given each individual a sphere of influence. A poor, illiterate housewife in the developing world can be a “leader” for her children and neighbors. This type of “leadership” needs greater emphasis in the Kingdom of God today.

I like to think of this type of leadership in terms of the metaphor of a mother duck leading her ducklings. 20121110-173035.jpgAs they walk or swim single file, only the first duckling is following the mother duck. Each of the other ducklings is following the one preceding them in line. In order to lead a duckling like this, one does not have to be a mature duck, just one step ahead of another duckling. In this metaphor, it is important to realize there is only one Leader of leaders – Jesus. All the rest of us are simply ducklings. None of us is totally mature (to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ). We are all “in process”. This does not excuse us from the responsibility to lead those whom we can, however. We still have the responsibility to steward whatever leadership opportunities God has given us.

This excerpt is used by permission from a fuller article: Planting Rapidly Reproducing Churches by Curtis Sergeant

What Went Wrong with the Jerusalem Model?

The Banqueting Table

The Banqueting TableA helpful e-newsletter from Dr. Traver Dougherty
from the archives
3/15/2010

Since I had the privilege of sharing organic church principles alongside Neil Cole last weekend, I figured now would be a good time to share a little something out of Cole’s recently released book, Church 3.0. Although the book is exemplary, one particular discussion had me turning the pages a little faster than normal.

QUESTION/TOPIC IN FOCUS: If the church (ecclesia) functions best as a decentralized missional force, how do you explain the overtly-centralized Jerusalem church?

What Went Wrong with the Jerusalem Model?
Excerpted from Church 3.0 by Neil Cole
Church3.0 by Neil Cole
Of all the churches in the book of Acts, I personally believe the Jerusalem church to be the poorest model and one we should be cautious about following. Of course, there is much to learn in the opening chapters, and I would not discount the beauty and power that was evident there. The success of the church in Jerusalem is legendary, and I will not take anything away from it. I would add that it was short-lived and localized. Within just a few years, the church plateaued and began its decline; soon it descended into a cesspool of ugly bigotry, gossip, slander, and legalism (Acts 21:20).
What went wrong? One could argue that they quickly centralized and established a hierarchical leadership chain (Acts 6:1-6). They also welcomed in new “converts” from among the priests (Acts 6:7), which of course is not a bad thing (even Paul was one), but something else occurred. They allowed a Judaistic legalism to saturate the church and choke out all health (Acts 21:20) (2010:101).
My Reflections
After the excerpt above, Neil (my friend) continues with this assessment: “I personally do not believe that the demise of the church was strictly because of structural issues or hierarchical development” (2010:101). On this point, Neil and I agree. What I’d like to expand on, however, is the way in which the “legalism” took place (Acts 21:20). Before unpacking the concept, however, consider F.F. Bruce’s take on the downfall of the Jerusalem church (to read the whole article, click here).
  • They were too concerned with cultural uniformity
  • They played it too safe
  • They allowed for the integration of Jewish customs
  • They were too exclusive; that is, they wanted to keep those who didn’t follow Jewish customs out
Now, let’s look at Acts 21:20, 21. Here’s what we need to know. At no time did Paul teach against circumcision or Torah. Paul did, however, fight against the traditions of the Pharisees. As such, notice that F.F. Bruce sites the integration of Jewish customs and not adherence to Torah as that which caused the Jerusalem church’s demise. Thus, following Torah wasn’t the downfall; instead, it was the infiltration, the mixing, of rabbinic tradition with that which is good and true and right that crippled the ecclesia in Jerusalem.
Here’s my point. As disciples of Yeshua (Jesus), we need to have an accurate understanding of cause and effect. While legalism did cripple the Jerusalem ecclesia (which is Neil’s point), it wasn’t a heartfelt adherence to Torah that did the crippling. To press the point even further, consider that the word church means, literally, circus (bounce houses and Easter Bunnies come to mind). And when do things become circuses? Simplistically, it’s when we replace God’s instructions/wisdom with what seems right in our own eyes (Isaiah 5:21).
Hope this was of some benefit to you.
 
Blessings,

Traver Dougherty (bio)
The Banqueting Table

Insightful Videos from Neil Cole

Newforms

Newforms

Our bro, Neil Cole was at the Newforms National Conference in April and they captured some video…these clips are short (3-5 minutes) and pithy!

 

 

  1. Sabatoging Movements
  2. What is Church Planting “Movementum”?
  3. The Power of a Movement
  4. Building a Movement
  5. Believe in the Seed

Is Leadership Permanent? by Traver Dougherty

Sevant LeadershipLeadership in an organic church expression looks a little different than what we’re used to; in an organic expression, leadership is truly servant leadership, exemplified in practice.

I recently read a book by Jean Vanier that nicely illustrates this principle. Vanier founded an intentional community of faith whose purpose was to live out the Kingdom by living with and serving those with a handicap. Founded in 1964, l’Arche communities can be found throughout the world.

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION/TOPIC: Is Christian Leadership Permanent?

The Life Cycle of a Leader

Excerpted from Jean Vanier’s Community and Growth
When a community starts, it is the founder who decides everything. But gradually brothers and sisters arrive and bonds are created. Then the founder asks their advice. It is no longer he, or she, who dictates what should be happening; he listens to others. A communal spirit is born. The founder begins to discover the gifts of each of the others. He discovers that others are more able than he is in certain ways, and that they have gifts which he doesn’t. So he entrusts more and more to others, learning to die to himself so that the others can live more fully. He remains the link and the person other community members turn to, a coordinator who confirms the others in their responsibilities and ensures that the spirit and unity of the community is maintained. At moments of crisis, he will still be called on to assert his authority, because the ultimate responsibility rests with him; he must, when discipline is failing, recall the others to their responsibilities. His authority will become less visible, but will still be very present until the day he disappears and another takes his place. Then his task is done. His work will continue; his role has been to disappear.
My Reflections
One of the tasks of any Christian leader is to remember the church is Christ’s bride, not ours. And just as John the Baptist recognized his “friend of the bridegroom” status, so must we – continually.
Too often, the Christian leader finds his identity in leadership, even servant leadership. This shouldn’t be. Instead, the Christian leader must find his identity in Christ alone.
Over the weekend, I attended Church Multiplication AssociatesOrganic Church Movements Conference. I was reminded, once again, of the dangers of status anxiety – that pesky desire in all of us to bow to the idol of prestige (i.e. power).
And prestige, as we know, is fleeting at best and robs God of his glory at worst. Say it with me aloud, would you please: To God be the glory!
Hope this was of some benefit to you.
Blessings,

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table

Originally written February 11, 2008

A Leader Who Finishes Well

The Making of A LeaderIn his outstanding work “The Making of A Leader,” J. Robert Clinton studied the lives of hundreds of leaders and asked the question- “What makes a leaders finish his/her life well?” We use the answers to this question in our Organic Greenhouse Story 2 Training to push our leaders to have a long-view of finishing well. These were what Clinton found to be the top 5 commonalities:

A Leader who Finishes Well:

1) has a perspective that focuses his/her energies on ministry strengths.

2) maintains a learning posture throughout all his/her life.

3) enjoys repeated times of personal/spiritual renewal.

4) mentors others while continuing to be mentored.

5) disciplines her or his own spiritual formation.

Are You A Christ Follower? by Phil Helfer

It has become commonplace to hear believers refer to themselves as Christ-followers. What does following Christ actually entail? For many, following Christ means following those they see as His designated leaders. It’s as though Christ has delegated His authority to others and all one must do to follow Him is follow the direction these other leaders provide. Since Jesus made it clear that His kingdom doesn’t operate that way, why do we let people go on thinking this is right?  To be a Christ-follower, one must follow Christ. Seems simple enough doesn’t it?  But simple it is not.

Scriptures & Jesus Many understand following Jesus to be synonymous with knowing His Word. In many churches the one who knows the most about theology is considered to be the best disciple. The knowledge of the scriptures is a necessary ingredient in the discipleship process but to equate knowledge with discipleship is a huge mistake. When we do this, we forget that Jesus did not command us to teach them all He has commanded us but to teach them to obey all that He has commanded us. Most dedicated Christians are educated way beyond their obedience. Any form of discipleship that doesn’t focus on helping others to live out their faith in real terms is not discipleship at all. Even those who seem to understand this truth, sometimes fall into the trap of acquiring the requisite obedience by using outside pressure. This too results in producing an anemic follower of Jesus.

The temptation is to teach people to look to the scriptures for instructions on how to live a good life. The Bible is the truth, the inerrant and infallible word of God, but when people search the scriptures for rules to live by they settle for a life that is much less than it could be.

It’s clear from the gospel accounts that Jesus lived His life for the will of His Father. You will find Him saying things like, “I only do the things I see the Father doing” and “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak… the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”  And again, “I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me.”  Jesus lived His life in constant connection with His Father. “I and the Father are one.”  He was perpetually obedient, even to the point of death on a cross. Jesus came to fulfill a specific mission. How is it that we seem to think that a life of generic good works is all God wants from us?

1 Corinthians 12 further supports this thinking. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. And each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  Isn’t it obvious that this infinite variety of gifts, ministries, and results is indicative of an infinite variety of works God intends to accomplish through His children?  Leaders often take it upon themselves to prescribe the work to be done by each individual and most individuals are happy to let them?  Jesus is the Head of His Body and He must be allowed to direct each member as He sees fit.

The scriptures have much to say about God, life, and the principles they contain. When these principles are observed and practiced can be of infinite value. But to substitute a relationship with the Bible for a relationship with Jesus is a fatal mistake. Paul makes it clear in his letter to the churches of Galatia that to live by an outside standard or set of rules is to seek a gospel other than the grace of Christ. Jesus, in a comment to the religious leaders of His day agrees, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life but it’s these that testify of me.” The scriptures are meant to bring us to Jesus so that He can write His words on our hearts.

The essence of discipleship is a vital personal relationship with Christ. This personal ongoing encounter with the Creator is the cornerstone of what it means to be a Christ-follower. Commit yourself to following Jesus and helping others to do the same. If you make this the cornerstone of your life, you will find that God will use you to further the fulfillment of the great commission.

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©2012 Phil Helfer

Originally posted in the February 2012 edition of The Messenger Newsletter for Los Altos Grace Brethren Church (Long Beach, CA)
On Twitter @PhilHelfer
Used with permission. All Scripture quotes from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

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