It’s been nearly a month since my last leadership thoughts e-letter. I apologize for the delay, but honestly I felt like I was processing the activity of the Holy Spirit in my own life and was not ready to write. I remember reading recently something Bill Johnson said, which pierced my heart. He said, “I don’t deliver a sermon, until it has first delivered me.” WOW! That explains how I have been feeling concerning these emails. But here we are, and I am ready to write and share some thoughts with you about leadership. I have much anticipation in my heart that this will encourage you and provide healthy food for thought.
Your worldview is very important. A flawed worldview can contribute to a continual misunderstanding of Jesus. An unsound worldview can consistently create an inability to comprehend, both, the heart and purposes of God. Throughout the gospels we encounter Pharisees. Pharisees, religious leaders who know much about God, much about people, but live with a constant unawareness that their “desired” king is living amongst them. These religious extremists pursued power in the midst of their never ending battle with the Roman Empire, Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor and their very own King Herod. The Pharisees sought for control of the minds of the people and fought hard to maintain whatever turf they had accumulated. They were not about to let a crazy, deranged, self proclaiming deity mess up their plans. After all, they were the wise ones who understood the ways of God.
Fast forward over hundreds of years and here we are in the midst of a similar battle. We have Democrats and Republicans fighting for the minds of Americans. We have tea party people, independents, moderates, extremists, right-wingers, left-wingers, socialists, marxists, interventionists, and so on and so forth. There is still a great battle being waged for who will lead and implement their vision and agenda. We, as Kingdom leaders, should stand in stark contrast to such environments. Joseph, Nehemiah, Esther and Daniel role model for us the power and potential of living in a dark society and penetrate it with the light of God’s heart and love.
I have recently been meditating on John 8:12. The power of this small verse has been quickening my spirit. Jesus says, “I AM the light of the world. WHOEVER follows me WILL NEVER walk in darkness, but will HAVE the LIGHT of LIFE” [emphasis mine.] May God bloom in the garden of our hearts the beauty of this verse. As we follow Jesus, the light for all humanity, we WILL NEVER walk in darkness. That is a powerful promise all by itself, but contextualize it for just a moment in a leadership paradigm.
- In what areas of your leadership is there an absence of light?
- Are there any places in your heart that are lacking hope?
- What promise is God giving to you and therefore He desires to illuminate himself and his nature?
The entirety of John 8 is a discourse that depicts the confrontation between competing world views.
It is a classic battle between Non-Kingdom leadership and Spiritual-Servant leadership. For the remainder of this letter I want to contrast these two styles and invite you to lead with effective, spiritual-servant leadership.
Issue #1: How to gain Influence.
Leaders who do not have a Kingdom of God worldview will seek to gain influence by leveraging power. As citizens of Heaven, we love power, but not in order to control, but to serve. Servant leadership will love people. If you read Philippians you will read the Spirit inspired commentary on the nature and heart of Jesus. Paul, under the Spirit’s inspiration writes things such, “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, made himself nothing, taking the nature of a servant, humbled himself, became obedient, therefore God exalted...” . Oh that God would rend our hearts and give us a similar paradigm when it comes to leadership and our honor to serve others.
Issue #2: How to possess confidence.
Again, leaders who live and lead without a kingdom context will “compete and win” in order to gain confidence. To be personal for a moment, this one strikes my heart. All too often many leaders lead without confidence. In the nature of our human frailty we then default to the position of finding confidence through “competing and winning.” That may imply “more numbers,” “bigger groups,” “better facilities,” “more sales,” or “recognition at any cost.” That’s not the style of servant leadership. Servant leaders find confidence dependent completely upon God. Paul makes some over-the-top statements in 2 Corinthians 3.2-4. He basically states that His confidence in the story of God being written on the human heart is found in Christ. While we do not desire to labor in vain, we labor with faith and dependency upon God while our confidence rests in Jesus. We to, are in a synergistic relationship with God that writes his story on the human heart. Let your confidence be in Jesus. Do not throw away your confidence . The Lord will be your confidence .
Issue #3: How to acquire authority.
In a worldly system that is not dependent upon Jesus by faith will acquire authority through rights and position. While positional authority is an accurate principle in leadership it is not one that serves us well. The better way to acquire authority in the Kingdom of God is through servanthood and stewardship. There is a dynamic passage found in Matthew’s gospel. It tells the story of how the servant will be the greatest. Jesus makes this statement while talking about how “high officials exercise authority” . Jesus also shares a parable about the ten minas . Those servants who stewarded what Jesus had given them were given overwhelming favor and responsibility. Leadership does not shy away from responsibility and needs favor to be successful. The favor you want is found within how you will steward what Jesus gave you. Our authority in the spirit and with the human heart is found in servanthood and stewardship.
Issue #4: What is Success?
Again I would illustrate that we live in a world with competing values and visions. Non Kingdom leadership will define success as overcoming the competition. What a divisive paradigm for leadership and servanthood. Much of our Western society is competitive. While we value good sportsmanship in winning and losing, the kingdom of God is not based upon overcoming competition. It is first and foremost about obeying the Lord. Paul, in his writing to the confused and disorderly Corinthian church pens “it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” . Faithfulness is not the same as consistency. For example, we all know employees who consistently punch the time clock, but we would not call them faithful towards the mission, vision or values of the organization they work for. Faithfulness is an adherence to vision, values and mission of the Kingdom of God. Faithfulness means that you are consistent while at the same time growing in your trust towards God, your loyalty with all he has given you and a vision that believes anything is possible. That is what it means to be “faith-FULL.”
Issue #5: The heart of leadership.
You have the power to choose. You can either be a “boss” type leader or you can function in leadership paternally. You have the awesome opportunity to become a father or mother in the faith to some through the gospel message . Again the Corinthians had many looking out for them, but Paul says that they did not have many fathers. Grow in your ability to duplicate yourself and reproduce the Kingdom culture in others so they emerge, with you, as powerful voices gracefully advancing the Kingdom of God.
1 - Philippians 2.3-11
2 - hebrews 10.35
3 - Proverbs. 3:26
4 - Matthew 2020-28
5 - Luke 19: 11-26
6 - 1 Corinthians. 4.2
7 - 1 Corinthians. 4.15
This edition of “Leadership Thoughts” has been influenced by John Maxwell’s article, “Servanthood: A conflict between Two Worldviews - John 8.1-59” page 1290 found in “The Maxwell Leadership Bible.”