Reflective Leadership Part 10

A key aspect of leadership that I have mentioned is needing to learn to follow before we can lead well. Over time the concept of mentoring has enjoyed varying degrees of popularity, yet whether popular or not, it is a good biblical and historical concept.

Mentors may mentor us directly or by example. So excluding Jesus, who has inspired or mentored you? They needn’t be famous people. One of the people who deeply impacted me was a farmer and truck driver named Rene. My first winter out of high school I worked for a trucking company out of Grande Prairie, Alberta moving oil rigs. Rene farmed by summer and drove truck in the winter. He was a great mentor to me just by being himself.

Rene and I never set up any type of mentoring relationship. He freely shared his wisdom with me and at first I regularly disagreed with much of it. A key technique he used to teach me was giving me the freedom to fail. At 18/19 I clearly knew everything and had great ideas on how to do things! Rene would let me try my ‘good ideas,’ which were mostly wrong. Once my way had failed I was open to letting him teach me how to do something correctly. He taught me many practical things when it came to dismantling, moving and setting up a drilling platform and rig. However, those weren’t the important things I learned. I learned how to fail and listen, how to push myself to do things I didn’t think I could do, at times accompanied by profanity, from me; and how to submit to someone older and wiser.

While Rene and I never did agree on which radio station to listen to, we developed a supportive working relationship and friendship and I learned a lot more than Rene. One of his pearls of wisdom was, “If you ever get to thinking too much of yourself stick your finger in a bucket of water and pull it out and see how much of a hole you leave.” I have repeated that one often.

So how does this fit with scripture if this is to be “Wisdom from the Word?” If we think of the bucket example Paul said;

3  For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3 (NKJV)

In my frequent failing prior to listening scripture says we are to submit and clothe ourselves with humility, good advice from the Holy Spirit;

21  submitting to one another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:21 (NKJV) 12  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; Colossians 3:12 (NKJV)

There many more scriptures I could provide. However the questions I want to leave us with are;

  1. Who are we learning from?
  2. Are we willing to follow?

Reflective Leadership Part 9

In recent months I did some teaching on hearing His voice and then moved into teaching on leadership. Someone asked how the two fit together. I believe that when we look at His kingdom they are like a hand a glove (you decide which is which). Godly leadership requires hearing His voice and obeying it.

Part of understanding the connection between leadership and hearing His voice is understanding our primary calling and purpose. In the Old Testament we see them laid out for us in some key scriptures and in the pattern the nation of Israel went through from Egypt to the Promised Land. Our primary purpose is to be His dwelling place.

8  And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. Exodus 25:8 (NKJV) When Moses led Israel out of Egypt they were promised a land flowing with milk and honey. What did they encounter immediately upon leaving Egypt? They found themselves in the wilderness. If we do not understand the purpose of the wilderness we like many in Israel will miss our calling and purpose. This same pattern can be seen in the life of Abraham, he left Ur, journeyed to Haran, and then went through the wilderness to reach the land of Canaan (which became Israel). Jesus was raised in relative obscurity in Nazareth, was called out into public ministry, baptized, publicly affirmed by His Father, and then what do the scriptures say?

12  Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. Mark 1:12 (NKJV)

The pattern is there in scripture. In fact for those with eyes to see the foundation is first laid in Genesis 1.

4  And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:4 (NKJV)

Just as at the beginning of creation the Holy Spirit began separating light from darkness, so too when we are born again as new creation He immediately begins the process of separating light from darkness in our lives. So back to Israel and the wilderness. Yahweh tells us why He led them around in the wilderness.

36  Out of heaven He let you hear His voice, that He might instruct you; on earth He showed you His great fire, and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire. Deuteronomy 4:36 (NKJV) 2  And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. Deuteronomy 8:2 (NKJV)

Yahweh led them in the wilderness to determine if they would hear and obey. Once Yahweh brought them out of Egypt He sought to get Egypt out of them (separating light and darkness). He brings us out into the wilderness to learn to hear His voice and learn to worship Him so we can serve with a right heart. The building of the Tabernacle of Moses in the wilderness was about learning to worship, part of which meant first hearing His voice. In fact the most important prayer in traditional Judaism is The Great Shema (Sh’ma Yisrael), it is to be recited twice a day and is found in Deuteronomy.

4  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” Deuteronomy 6:4 (NKJV)

Or alternatively, ‘Shema O Yisrael, Yahweh Elohim, Yahweh is one!’

The word Shema/Sh’ma means ‘hear’ in Hebrew. Hearing His voice and commands is critical. So the pattern is as follows. Deliverance/new birth (symbolized by coming out of Egypt), learning to hear and worship (the wilderness) then engaging in service (the promised land, here the manna stopped, they needed to work the land, something they never did in the wilderness). As I have noted before, if we are not willing to be a good follower, willing to hear and obey, then we will never be a good leader in His kingdom. Micah said it much more eloquently.

8  He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

Reflective Leadership Part 8

The last area to cover of the linked ones I referenced (Vision/Meaning, Framing/Reframing, Energizing, Connecting and Engaging) is Engaging. On the surface it may sound a lot like connecting, yet there is more going on. In fact it could just as easily be described as presence.

So what is it? Have you ever had the awareness of how things, for better or worse, shifted when certain people entered a room? While it may not be something all of us are aware of it is something I am sure we have all had the opportunity to experience. A good example in a church context is when a true shepherd/pastor is leading a congregation. While many have the title ‘pastor’ not all have the anointing. If a true pastoral anointing is present and operating through a leader the congregation has a sense of being settled or at peace. When that individual is away there is a sense of restlessness or discomfort in the congregation unless someone else with that anointing is present.

On the negative side I remember working in one government ministry where I talked to people about what I saw when the government minister in charge came and went. This individual went on a lot of trips and generated a lot of projects. When they left on a trip the lowering of tension in headquarters was palpable, yet when their return drew near the tension level and anxiety rose significantly because of how they functioned and engaged with others. Their presence did not bring calm or peace.

These are two examples of higher profile leaders, yet to bring this home, what do we release through our presence as we engage with others? Do we release calm and peace or increase anxiety? What is our responsibility in this area and how do we exercise it well? What do the scriptures have to teach us in this area?

When I first mentioned this concept I referenced the scripture below. However, is this just an anomaly?

5  But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6  And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. Luke 10:4-6 (NKJV)

It is not an anomaly, we are called to carry His presence to those around us.

18  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV) 8  For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed – 9  lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10  “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11  Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present. 2 Corinthians 10:8-11 (NKJV)

Given we are called to carry and release His presence where we go it is important to Jesus. Consider that in the example above from 2 Corinthians 10 the preceding verses tell us that the context of Paul’s statements is spiritual warfare. Jesus is in us and the degree to which He has been formed in us (Gal. 4:19) is the degree to which He is able to be released and touch those around us. In addition to his own walk Paul shared this truth with Timothy as well.

6  Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NKJV)

14  That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. 2 Timothy 1:14 (NKJV)

What we have and what we release is connected to our choices. We may not normally see things like this in the scriptures but they are there if we look. They are important to see as we need to walk in them in leading our lives and impacting our generation. I pray we will walk in wisdom for His glory!

Reflective Leadership Part 7

Connecting is the next leadership area I want to address. In my overview I referenced the connection between Paul and Barnabas that enabled the gospel to go forth. There are many others in scripture and I invite you to look for them. We need connections with others to move forward in our calling and purpose and we also need discernment to recognize what is before us. Clearly Barnabas saw something in Paul that others did not and the fruit of that seeing continues to reverberate through the centuries and into eternity.

Many years ago I heard Billy Graham’s response to a question. He was asked about the key to success in ministry and responded, “Find a group of people and grow old together.” This is true in life as well as ministry. What is one of the first things Yahweh had to say in scripture?

18  And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Genesis 2:18 (NKJV)

While this verse refers to the joining of the first couple the principle applies to leadership. We cannot do things alone. We need to walk with others as that is how He designed us. We need one another to accomplish our purposes but also to celebrate our accomplishments. Imagine an awards ceremony with a single person on a stage and no one in the auditorium. It would be both literally and emotionally empty.

There is an expression, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together.” We need to go far and I have had the privilege of consistently walking with friends in ministry, some for decades (perhaps that just means I am getting old) ) and know the depth of fellowship in a common purpose.

Let’s take a deeper look at Paul (Saul became Paul over time) and Barnabas

25  Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26  And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. Acts 11:25-26 (NKJV)

We see here that they were joined together. If we go a little further we also see something else.

1  Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2  As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3  Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. Acts 13:1-3 (NKJV)

14  But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out Acts 14:14 (NKJV)

Paul (Saul) and Barnabas were both prophets and/or teachers in the church at Antioch. When they were sent out by the Holy Spirit they are then referred to as apostles (the word means ‘sent ones’). The point here is that these two great apostles in the early church were only fully released into their callings after they were joined together.

Are there others we need to connect with to see our calling and purpose realized?