The pastor had been called from his rural church to another part of the country. He was excited about the new challenge, as he well should have been. In a parting comment to a friend, he assessed the state of spirituality of the church members he was leaving behind:
“There is enough ignorance in this county to ignorantize the whole country.”
What happens when a pastor gets called to a church like that? A church where the members and leaders alike do not know the Word of God and have no idea of how things should be done (what Paul called “how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God,” 1 Tim. 3:15) or why it all matters?
Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jehozadak responded by starting again to rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them and helped them. — Ezra 5:2
The term guru has become a description of a person so knowledgeable on a subject that people seek him or her out for advice. These individuals are often depicted as sitting alone on a mountaintop, waiting for someone to stop by for some wisdom. And when the time comes to share, their answers are brief and filled with multiple levels of understanding.
However, leadership does not come from dispensing mysterious advice. Nor, to be more exact, does it come from acting in isolation. God created people to be creatures of community, and within that network of relationships come opportunities to allow others to challenge and encourage each other regardless of title or distinction.
Zerubbabel learned this while attempting to rebuild the Temple after the exiles returned to Jerusalem. Some of the Levites were distraught and wept when the foundation was laid, knowing this version wouldn't be as magnificent as the one Solomon built. Meanwhile, Israel's enemies wanted to help with the building, but when Zerubbabel told them no, they used their power and persuasion to stop construction for sixteen years.
During this time, Zerubbabel could have given up on the whole project. However, two individuals offered him advice and help: the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Not only did they prophesy to the people, but they also helped get the project back on track again. Their advice and encouragement helped Zerubbabel and the people to complete the Temple despite all the opposition.
Not only do leaders need to be able to encourage others, but they also need to find their own consistent sources of encouragement. This doesn't mean that a "guru" needs to be found. Instead, a leader needs to find trusted people who will listen, pray, and offer advice as God directs them to. Leaders flourish under consistent counsel. Now that's good advice!
All of us who lead in a church understand the cost of doing ministry—the financial cost, that is. We know our budgets and the limits of what we can afford or not afford.
However, many pastors and leaders are allowing some intangible costs to rob them now, and the net result will be devastating if these “costs” are not cut.
1. A complaining culture. We all know what this means. It’s that thing that says, “It’s not my way, so I’m going to complain about it.” Your church can’t afford that. You have to teach your people and get it into your DNA that people simply can’t complain. You want your people to be about 80 percent happy. When people are 80 percent happy, you know you’re reaching all kinds of people. The second people get 100 percent happy, you will only reach those just like them. Here’s the thing: Teach your people that they can’t complain about the 20 percent they’re not happy with. It’s suffocating to your church and your vision. The cost is too high.
Jesus was definitely an iconoclast, continually challenging the conventional thinking of His day. Twenty different times, Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said ... but I say to you ... ” And even today, His thoughts on leadership go against the grain.
Most modern books on leadership, whether Christian or secular, give the same advice: Be confident, never admit fear, maintain control and be composed, be convincing and never show weakness. But Jesus had a different style altogether. Instead of leading from a position of strength (lording authority over people), Jesus led from a position of weakness, becoming a servant.
The term profiling is relatively new in today's vocabulary. It became nationally popular in the early 80s, when the public suspected and targeted a person, or persons, on the basis of some characteristic, behavior, color, race or religion. This has become known as profiling, usually carrying a negative connotation.
Before jumping into biblical profiling, which is a major step in God's direction, let me share with you my horrifying experience of personal profiling. I speak from an event sketched in my memory forever. This is a story I'd rather not relive, but I will offer it up for your benefit and to lay a firm foundation for the value of profiling others.
The power of accountability sets the tone in any organization.
So, what about when someone completely drops the ball? We all have experienced this as leaders. I know I have. How do you respond?
You give a big assignment or project to someone on your team, and they lay an egg—totally drop the ball and don’t get it done. We’ve all been there. I know I have, both as the goat who goofed up, as well as the one in charge trying to figure out how to handle the situation.
So, how do you handle it? Let’s look at this situation from both sides—both the one who dropped the ball and the one in charge.