Leadership Multiplication

Throughout my studies in leadership theory, I was drawn to a wonderful work by Pastor and Author, Dr. Harry Reeder III titled, The Leadership Dynamic. Dr. Reeder’s text is both pithy and poignant with its goal of both correcting poor (worldly) leadership models and presenting grounded Biblical practices by which to build upon. Here is an excerpt:

“Why do Christians want to learn leadership from the world’s models when we know that ‘worldly wisdom’ inevitably conflicts with the Word of God and brings chaos and despair? Genuine, effective leadership must be learned from God’s word, developed through disciple making, nurtured in God’s church, and then transported into the world. When this happens, we can anticipate a consistent reproduction of multiplication leaders who have been transformed by Biblical leadership. It’s God’s chain reaction. A transformed leader produces more transformed leaders-leaders who have been mentored within the church, then sent out to impact the world. By God’s grace they will become change agents, and the process will continually repeat itself as God intended.”

This multiplication construct was used by Christ when he sent out a small number of personally trained followers to take the gospel to the nations. In the last 2000 years, billions of people have heard the gospel of Christ, and the multiplication continues. Christian leaders, as we have been blessed with leadership opportunities within our given spheres, may we train up others to continue to carry the gospel’s baton to future generations.

PS: Add this book to your collection!

-Soli Deo Gloria

 

Otherology 101

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.       -Phil 2:4

As a result of sin entering the world, mankind lacks the natural inclination to serve others. For this reason, the Apostle Paul instructs the Christians in Philippi to understand the interests of others. This “others” focus requires work, forethought, and follow through. Looking to the interests of others necessitates observation and dialogue with the intent of knowing people to better serve them. This “Otherology” or study of others aids Christian leaders in knowing how to meet needs and pray for those around them. This relational design creates an atmosphere of trust as the recipient knows that someone truly cares for and desires the best for them. Otherology is not rocket science, but it does require a degree of study as we cannot know what makes someone tick unless we spend meaningful time getting to know them.

C.H. Spurgeon writes, “Consider how you can help others, and in what way you can prosper them both in temporal things and in spiritual. You are members of a body, so one member is not to think for itself alone, the unity of the whole body requires that every separate and distinct part of it should be in harmony with the whole.” Spurgeon’s point regarding meeting the “temporal” needs of others is important as these are often the impetus to a discussion about spiritual matters. In fact, Christ elucidates this point in his exposition on the final judgment, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matt 25:35-36). In this pericope, Jesus reveals that meeting the physical and emotional needs of others is commensurate with glorifying Him. Christian leaders, let us exert the time and energy necessary to get to know those in our spheres to serve them better.

-Soli Deo Gloria

Persuading through Power in Perspective

The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.  -John Stott

For many years, the phrase “knowledge is power” has been a mainstay in leadership circles as it promises leaders that they will have great authority over others if they acquire valuable information and control it for personal gain. This concept of “kingdom building” typically has a short life span as it diminishes trust with those needed the most to succeed in any given endeavor. Instead, Christian leaders should embrace knowledge only as it is linked with other Biblical traits such as wisdom, instruction, and insight (Prov 1) as these inform the leader on how best to wield knowledge and power. As these are all byproducts of the “fear of the Lord” (Prov 1:7), they reveal that anything acquired by them is to reflect God’s glory.

Consequently, as Christian leaders, it is critical to gain knowledge for use in persuading others. For this reason, Christian are commanded to study the Sacred Text (2 Tim 2:15). However, the goal in knowledge acquisition must always be Christocentric and never used as a source of dominating, belittling, or controlling others. Any power held by Christian leaders is provided by God and must be handled with extreme care lest it leads to arrogance, coercion, or self-aggrandizement. Power, in the hands of a humble Christian servant, can yield great fruit and reflect God’s goodness. Christian leaders, may we seek knowledge, instruction, insight, and wisdom for use in reflecting the image of God by serving others.

-Soli Deo Gloria

The Eternality of Effective Leadership

“Everything humans build will one day be reduced to ruins, but our lives and our leadership will, in Christ, have eternal consequences and impact.” -Albert Mohler

Dr. Mohler’s work, The Conviction to Lead, focuses on encouraging Christians to lead with a passion for something much greater than the daily tasks of our temporal employment. Whether we are cleaning streets or seeking a path to exploring Mars, our calling (or vocation) must be examined in light of our impact on the souls around us. In writing to the Colossian church, the Apostle Paul noted, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17). The “whatever” Paul is referring to provides no limitations or qualifiers thus revealing the necessity of living every aspect of our lives Soli Deo Gloria (for the glory of God alone). Our vocations (whether in the home, community, church, school, workplace, etc.) therefore, are a means of grace designed by God to accomplish the more lofty tasks of evangelizing the lost and encouraging the faithful.

Patrick Henry College Professor Gene Veith encapsulates the God-ordained role of vocation and its practical implications in everyday life…

“God gives us this day our daily bread through the vocation of farmers, millers, bakers, and — we would add — the factory workers, truck drivers, grocery store employees, and the hands that prepared our meal. God creates and cares for new life by means of the vocations of mother and father, husband and wife. He protects us by means of police officers, judges, the military, and other Romans 13 vocations of those who “bear the sword.” God brings healing not primarily through miracles but through the vocation of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and the other medical vocations. God teaches through teachers, conveys His Word through preachers, gives the blessings of technology through engineers, and creates beauty through artists. God works through all the people who do things for us, day by day. And He also works through us, in whatever tasks, offices, and relationships He has called us to do.”

Christian leaders, as we enter the tasks presented before us each day, may we be mindful of the reality that they are a divine avenue by which we honor God by serving others.

-Soli Deo Gloria

Change Your “Sphere”

As universities around the country complete graduation ceremonies, a common theme among commencement speakers tends to be “Change Your World!” Although changing the world is a noble task, it is replete with hyperbole and sensationalism. While I can appreciate the motivation behind this passionate phrase, especially in the realm of Christocentric Leadership, I would recommend something less lofty but more tangible such as changing your “sphere.” Every leader, whether in the home, workplace, church, or community has a sphere or circle of influence around them which includes those most likely to listen and consider new or alternative ideas. It is these groups that we have the greatest likelihood of positively impacting and changing.

The sphere changing approach keeps our focus on the micro tasks of reaching those closest to us which has the ability to indirectly reach multitudes. It is important to understand that each of our spheres is connected to other spheres which are connected yet to others. Although Christ had the power to illuminate His gospel message immediately to the entire world, He chose instead to call and reach those within His proximity. Through the faithfulness of just over a dozen men over 2000 years ago, millions have heard the gospel and the world was changed. Additionally, a small group of Reformers in the 16th century worked within their spheres to change the minds of those around them producing a radically different Christian community which thrives to this day. As Christian leaders, let us work in our micro-environments to create a macro impact on the world around us.

-Soli Del Gloria

Integrity, Service, Excellence…

During my time in the U.S. Air Force, I became well accustomed to understanding and seeking to live out the official Core Values of “Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.” These values are instilled in Airmen on their first day of Basic Training and preached continually both in the workplace and in the war zone. Although these attributes can be viewed in a secular context, it is important to note that they all maintain a foundation that goes much deeper than modern philosophical thought. The Scriptures attach these values to a source beyond ourselves and even our ability to perfectly keep them. As these values are derived from God, they should be carefully considered by Christian leaders in that they reflect the character of Christ who has absolute integrity, sacrificed Himself to save others while living a perfect or “excellent” life. Consider the following verses in this light:

Integrity First

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. (Prov 10:9)

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity… (Titus 2:7)

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them. (Prov 11:3)

Service Before Self

And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:44-45)

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:35)

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. (1 Pet 4:10)

Excellence in All We Do

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matt 5:16)

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might… (Eccl 9:10)

As Christian leaders, we can and should embrace the Core Values of the Air Force as they reflect the perfect servant-leader, Jesus Christ. Let us, therefore, walk in integrity, serve others, and “do all for the glory of God.”

-Soli Deo Gloria

As this is my first attempt at blogging, I do so with a bit of fear and trepidation knowing that my words will reflect my visceral thoughts, ideas, intentions, beliefs, and worldview. My goal in this blog is to bring attention to a topic so often overlooked in this post-modern or post-truth era: namely, Servant Leadership or my preferred moniker “Christocentric Leadership.” Christocentric Leadership involves time-tested principles with a basis in the canon of Scripture and in particular the work and person of Jesus Christ. Although local bookstores are replete with leadership texts, very few of them emphasize Biblical servant leadership models as exhibited by Christ and His followers throughout the ages.

Shortly after Jesus rebuked the mother of James and John for requesting that her boys have a place of prominence in glory, Jesus uttered these profound words, “…whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:26b-27). With this pronouncement, Christ set forth a leadership model which places the emphasis not on self, but others. In this current epoch of hedonism and self-aggrandizement, “self” often becomes the god to be worshiped and served. As one considers the humility of Christ taking on the form of servant (Phil 2:5-8) in order to reach a fallen world, it is hard to imagine that sin-laden mankind would have the audacity to consider himself to be something more lofty than the Creator of all that exists. Hence, Christocentric Leadership involves imitating Christ by serving others in order to lead them effectively.

It is in the light of the aforementioned Matthean pericope that this leadership theory will be developed in forthcoming blog posts. Although a plethora of servant- leadership models exist, many are explored devoid of the foundation of Jesus Christ. Ignoring this basis is tantamount to a study of philosophy without exploring the works of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Although Christ is central to this leadership journey, the lives of other Biblical and extra-Biblical figures will be considered as both positive and antithetical examples of Christocentric Leadership. It is this writer’s hope that the readers will be challenged, encouraged, and edified by these musings while they seek to become better leaders at work, in the home, at church, or in the community.

-Soli Deo Gloria