In my talks with pastors and ministry leaders, I hear some repeated themes. One common theme is that they have a story of a failed leadership experience. It might have been their first church or the church experience that went bad. Or, many times, it’s their current ministry, and that’s the reason for our conversation.
They grew (or are growing) from the time, but looking back, they wish they had known then what they know now. You’ve probably got some of those learning experiences too. It may have been an incident or the entire time in that ministry, but there were critical errors that kept you and the church from accomplishing all God had for you, errors in leading. Why don’t we learn from each other?
My mask was failing.
I had worked so hard to keep people out, to keep them from seeing the real me, that I hadn’t invested the energy in allowing God to clean up the stuff I was trying to hide.
My mask was protecting me from other people’s judgment, but it was also preventing God’s healing and cleansing from taking full effect. I was struggling with some sin issues. Instead of allowing God to help me, I was fighting very difficult battles on my own.
As my mask began to show cracks, I became ashamed and desperate.
When do you pray?
Brother Lawrence taught us to “practice the presence.”
Maybe you are like me, and you realize that standing at a monastery sink all day would give you plenty of time to talk to God. It seems a bit different than working on a computer, working at a construction site or working any of the myriad jobs that we have to pay the bills.
Keeping a running dialogue with God while driving 60 mph, listening to your teen’s latest saga, contemplating your latest deliverable at work and trying to figure out how you should reduce the church’s utility bill takes practice.
You are slammed with things that need to get done, there is a parent that just won’t get off your case, or perhaps you just have heard more negative than positive lately. It sounds like you could use some encouragement.
I know a lot of youth workers right now who are going through a season of needing encouragement. For some, it is because of the season; going into summer you are tired. For others it’s situational. No matter what the reason, you deserve some encouragement.
I just want to encourage all my fellow youth workers, volunteer or paid: You are doing good work. You are doing what God has called you to do. You are making a difference in the lives of students even when you feel like you are getting nowhere. You are gifted no matter what your critics say. Your God created you to be just the way you are. What you are doing is worthwhile.
The nature of computer viruses, as I understand them, is that a kink is placed in the inner workings of these systems that infiltrates all aspects and makes it impossible for the computer to do the work for which it was intended.
They are called viruses for good reason. Plagues are the result of viruses being passed along from one person to another until millions are infected and a great many die. Quarantining the carriers has traditionally been the means of stopping the virus in its tracks.
In the kingdom of God—the church on earth, if you will—bad ideas and wrongheaded philosophies function in the same way as viruses. They infect a church, and as members and leaders interact with other churches, as people relocate and assume places in other congregations, the infection is spread.
The result is always deadly.
I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. — John 13:15
The qualifications for being a leader do not consist solely of sitting behind a desk and barking out orders for others to accomplish. If that were the case, life as we know it would come to a standstill, with lots of talk but no action. Successful leaders are able to delegate duties to others but are also willing to perform them if necessary.
I know of one grocery store chain where the CEO and his team of vice-presidents attend the grand opening of each new location. Instead of simply basking in the spotlight of another success, they get to work, helping the new staff. They can be seen stocking shelves, performing price checks, helping customers, and bagging groceries. They even gather shopping carts from the parking lot. Talk about setting an example for the new employees to follow!
Jesus set the perfect example on the night he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot. As the evening meal was being served, he got up from the table, grabbed a towel and basin of water, and proceeded to wash the feet of his disciples. Such a task was supposed to be done by a servant, but Jesus was willing to take on that role. Peter wasn't sure what to think of this, rejecting the foot washing at first. He had to be convinced. Later, Jesus informed Peter and the other disciples that leadership equals servanthood. It's not an easy truth for many leaders to apply to life, but Christ's example that night makes an eloquent case.
So the next time you're ready to tell someone what to do, think back to that evening meal when the Lord, on his knees, washed the dirty, smelly feet of those he loved--and for whom he later died. That's leadership in its highest form. How can you follow that example?