Archive for the 'Leadership Stuff' Category

Who to Choose?

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

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“Effective leaders view leadership selection and development as a priority function.” – J. Robert Clinton

I was asked recently by a person with whom I enjoy a mentoring relationship why I spent time with another person in such a relationship. In other words; “What did I see in that other person? Why would I invest in that relationship?”

Afterwards, I sat down and tried to capture in writing my answer to that question more thoroughly than I have in the past. It’s an answer honed by my experience and by my own personal sense of calling from God.

So at the risk of being labeled “elitist” and perhaps being too transparent about my own philosophy of ministry, here’s the list of what I look for in people with whom I will go deep in relationships and/or mentor:

Spiritually Alive: They are enamored with Jesus and willing to follow him no matter what. They evidence a palatable spiritual hunger and thirst for the Spirit of God to flow through their lives. They are consumed by love for Christ and what it means to be his Kingdom followers in all areas of life.

Teachable: They are responsive and teachable. They display good followership which I believe to be an unconditional prerequisite for good leadership. They don’t have all the answers and are not contentious or argumentative. They are not in theological cement.

Passionate: I am not interested in motivating the unmotivated. I can help steer a moving horse but I’m not going to invest the limited time I have left in life trying to get an obstinate horse off its rump. I want to see passion for much of the same values and vision for which God has captured my own life.

Character: I am drawn to people of unquestioned character. When push comes to shove, they will default to doing the right thing.

Apostolic Gifting: There are indications that they are apostolically gifted. There is a holy discontent with the way things are and they want to be agents of change. They are flexible, adaptable, and mobile. They are catalytic and evidence an entrepreneurial drive by wanting to create and start new things. They want to pioneer and to create.

Servants: I’m not interested in investing my life in self-absorbed people who struggle to get beyond themselves. I’m looking for individuals who are “other oriented” and willing to sacrifice for the needs of those around them.

Thoughtful: I work best with those who can be intellectually engaged and stimulated. There is great curiosity and they can think for themselves. I resonate with people who are comfortable in the world of ideas yet who also are compelled to see those ideas worked out in real life so change is the result. I am not drawn to theory for theory’s sake.

Culturally Savvy: I gravitate toward those who can read a culture and know how to adapt, whether it’s their own culture or one into which they parachute. There is a winsomeness about them. They are contagious. They attract others because of the depth of their character, their spirituality, and their love of people.

Leadership Gifting: They have clear leadership giftedness. I look for those who will have a reproductive influence in the lives of others.

Sense of Calling: I desire to invest in people who, because of the way God has gifted them, have a sense of calling to vocational ministry. This is not to say that I do not value other callings, only that I believe that God has asked me to focus with the limited resources and energy that I posses on people who are headed in that direction. This is not elitist. I am certainly willing to help scores of people figure this out, but that smaller circle that gets my time and attention are those where this question has some sense of finality.

Chemistry: I want to relate to those individuals with whom I have a personal sense of chemistry. They like me and I like them. We want to hang out together. We enjoy each other’s company. There is a genuine and growing sense of love and appreciation.

The Hand of God: Ultimately, I am looking for people on whom the hand of God rests. It’s that unquantifiable quality of God’s anointing where the holy has indiscriminately blown on a life and the result is a sense of supernatural unction. It is the reason Jesus appears to have agonized over the calling of the 12 in the gospels. Even for him, the master selector, it was a divine process where the Father made the choices in the final analysis.

A Man for All Seasons

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

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The Oscars are tonight.

Coincidentally, Patty and I watched one of my all-time favorites today ..A Man for All Seasons. It is a timeless story of conscience, integrity and intrigue as Sir Thomas More opposes Henry VIII’s decision to divorce his first wife, Catherine, in order to marry Anne Boleyn, wife #2 (out of a total of six), an opposition that eventually costs Sir Thomas his head.

The film was awarded Best Picture in 1966 and Paul Scofield, who played Sir Thomas More, won the Best Actor Oscar. The film also won Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume design and Best Director. Besides Scofield, it starred Orson Wells (Bishop Wolsey) and Robert Shaw (Henry VIII).

Mel Gibson was so impressed by Paul Scofield’s performance in this film that he compared appearing alongside him in Hamlet to being “thrown into the ring with Mike Tyson.” Another huge fan of Scofield’s performance as More was John Wayne, who once called it the best performance he had ever seen.

The God of Public Space

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

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“God is personal, but never private. Restricting God to private space was the great heresy of twentieth-century American evangelicalism.

Denying the public God is a denial of biblical faith itself, a rejection of the prophets, the apostles, and Jesus himself. Exclusively private faith degenerates into a narrow religion, excessively preoccupied with individual and sexual morality while almost oblivious to the biblical demands for public justice.

We have been buffeted by private spiritualities that have no connection to public life and a secular politics showing disdain for religion or even spiritual concerns. That leaves spirituality without social consequences and a politics with no soul.”
—Jim Wallis in God’s Politics


I was in college in the early 70s as the university world was being rolled by Vietnam protests and the great social upheavals of the 60s. On the religious scene, issues such as racism, civil rights, social justice, poverty, war and peace were pretty much owned by the left which embraced these causes with great passion but who had given up, for the most part, on the historical Jesus and his reality or relevance in the present. Despite wonderful counter-cultural expressions such as the Jesus Movement, conservative evangelicalism was essentially paralyzed and impotent. All most could do was circle the spiritual wagons and hope the storm would pass.

It was during this time of chaos that I was introduced to Sojourners and Jim Wallis. It was like a drink of cool water in a blazing hot cultural desert. I couldn’t believe that such a magazine, or a community, existed. It combined biblical fidelity with a powerful social/cultural critique that was neither morally selective like the right nor spiritually anemic like the left.

Thirty years later, that same voice has emerged with new relevance and spiritual authority. Wallis’ book—God’s Politics —is a refreshing, comprehensive primer on a holistic, biblical gospel applied to present day American society and politics. It’s one of those books that I read and wonder, “This has the ring of truth. Why are so few who name the name of Christ in the public square saying these things? And why are so few in the Church listening?”

While there are times when his objectivity can get a little carried away by his Anabaptist bias, Wallace’s book is one of the best critiques of our present political context and how followers of Jesus can and must engage.


“God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It” (Jim Wallis)

McGavran and Church Growth

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

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“Church Growth” has gotten a bad rap!

Several years ago I was at a large conference in Denver sponsored by Leadership Network. In front of hundreds of leaders from around the nation, a leading evangelical figure lashed out at “church growth” and characterized it as the fountainhead of all that was wrong with the present-day Church in North America.

I approached him personally afterwards and asked him where in the writings of Donald McGavran—the “father” of the Church Growth Movement—would I find any of the the things he so aggressively castigated. And which aspect of the field of missiology, of which “church growth” theory has played an integral part, would he find anything close to what he was pummeling. He responded with a blank stare.

“Church growth” have become in recent years a grab-all punching bag for anyone who wants to take shots at the church that is, particularly the mega, number-crunching, market oriented, shallow, seeker-sensitive, institutional forms of Christianity that the Protestant movement in the Western world has deemed to be paradigms of “success.”

In reality, Church Growth—as defined and taught by Donald A. McGavran—is far from what has been popularized in North America. This school of study and practice has been one of the most important and influential missiological forces in the latter half of the 20th century, particularly in the developing world. Today, unbeknownst to most, such missiology is a major underpinning of those movements around the globe that are cutting new ground for the Christian movement in unreached people groups and among the major blocks that remain resistant to the good news of Jesus, i.e., other major world religions, the secular, and the animistic. In many ways, the emerging church in the West applies and lives out the missiological insights articulated by McGavran several generations earlier.

In his seminal works, The Bridges of God and later Understanding Church, McGavran provided groundbreaking insights and a framework to understand the redemptive purposes of God. Such understanding has stood the test of time and culture. Granted, there are refinements that that years have brought, such as a clearer differentiation between church and kingdom, but on the whole, the seminal theory that McGavran advanced—based on his 30 years of field work in India—continues to ring true today.

Eddie Gibbs, who hold the McGavran chair of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary, put it this way:

“Unfortunately, as the Church Growth movement became popular in North America, it focused on technique, and we lost sight of the profound insights of Donald McGavran.

His early writing was pushing people out of their secure mission stations to build the bridges of God into the society around them and to sensitively birth faith communities within their cultural context …

My hope is that the Church Growth movement is still to come into its own. The Americanization of it corrupted it, but McGavran is still right! He was a child of his age, and he got some things wrong. He defined mission too narrowly, and he too closely identified church and kingdom. But he grasped this idea that you’ve got to be a movement, to be on the move. And he understood the need to think in terms of sociological maps, not just geographical ones.”

Success?

Friday, January 26th, 2007

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At the Edgewater Hotel in Chicago in 1923, nine of the most successful businessmen in the United States gathered for a meeting. If these nine had combined their resources and assets, they would have controlled more money than the U.S. Treasury. In the meeting were:

1 – The head of the largest monopoly in the nation.
2 – The most successful speculator on Wall Street.
3 – The president of the largest independent steel company.
4 – The president of the largest utility company.
5 – The president of the largest gas company.
6 – The greatest wheat speculator in the United States.
7 – The president of the New York Stock Exchange.
8 – The president of the Bank of International Settlements.
9 – A member of the President’s cabinet.

Twenty-five years later … Where were these men?

1 – Ivan Krueger, head of the greatest monopoly, died a suicide.
2 – Jesse Livermore, the most successful speculator on Wall Street, died a suicide.
3 – Charles Schwab, president of the largest independent steel company, died in bankruptcy and lived on borrowed money for five years before his death.
4 – Samuel Insull, the president of the greatest utility company, died a fugitive from the law and penniless in a foreign land.
5 – Howard Hopson, the president of the largest gas company, went insane.
6 – Arthur Cotton, the greatest wheat speculator, died abroad, bankrupt.
7 – Richard Whitney, the president of the New York Stock Exchange, was released from Sing Sing Penitentiary.
8 – Leon Fraser, the president of the Bank of International Settlements, died a suicide.
9 – Albert Fall, the member of the President’s cabinet, was pardoned so that he could die at home.

Sobering.

“Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.Matthew 6:20-21

Drucker on Education

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

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“Our education system disqualifies people for honest work.

“When a subject becomes totally obsolete, we make it a required course.”

“The schoolmaster since time immemorial has believed that the ass is an organ of learning. The longer you sit, the more you learn.”

“Harvard, to me, combines the worst of German academic arrogance with bad American theological seminary habits.”

What Brings Change?

Friday, December 29th, 2006

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

— Anthropologist Margaret Mead

Ford on Leadership

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

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“Courage is not something to be gauged in a poll or located in a focus group. No advisor can spin it. No historian can backdate it. In the age-old context between popularity and principle, only those willing to lose for their convictions are deserving of posterity’s approval.”

Prayer for Russia

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

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Our Father All-Merciful!
Don’t abandon your own long-suffering Russia
In her present daze,
In her woundedness,
Impoverishment,
And confusion of spirit.
Lord Omnipotent!
Don’t let, don’t let her be cut short,
To no longer be.
So many forthright hearts
And so many talents
You have lodged among Russians.
Do not let them perish or sink into darkness
Without having served in your name.
Ot of the depths of Calamity
Save your disordered people.

- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Levers of Influence

Friday, December 15th, 2006

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In my experience, anyone who leads has several “levers” through which they can exert influence in an organization. There is nothing particularly spiritual inherent in these as leadership tools. But spirituality makes a profound difference in HOW they are used.

1. Money – The spending of money is never morally neutral. A budget conveys values and priorities. The power to steer where resources are applied is a critical prerogative that a wise leader should not abdicate nor allow to wander far from his attention.

2. Recruiting – Whom we hire speaks volumes. In ministry, I believe the character, giftedness, passion and spiritual maturity of those we choose and draw close to us does more than anything else to determine the essential DNA of any organization.

3. Promoting – Eyes are always on who is sponsored into greater responsibility and who is tapped for what roles and positions of trust.

4. Public Persona and the Flow of Information – Communication is a powerful leadership tool whether it be written, spoken or visual. Even when aimed at audiences outside the organization, the boomerang effect can be enormous.

5. Evaluation Criteria – How we critique performance and results can exercise a huge effect on behavior. Such criteria translates what we believe and what we value into concrete action and accountability.

These five “levers” may all sound crass and even Machiavellian. But these are the realities of human relationships and are true whether found in government, business, families or religious movements. In the ministry realm, these are actually the means through which spiritual authority can be exercised and the blessing of God can flow. Conversely, they can be means through which abuse is perpetuated.

Anyone who is honest will find this to be true and can identify such levers of influence if they look closely at the life of any leader in any era, whether it is Mother Teresa, John Calvin, Martin Luther King, or Billy Graham.

Change

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

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“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” —Woodrow Wilson,

“It is not merely that changes in our world demand new responses from us. The very foundations of society have changed.” —Craig Van Gelder

“A church which pitches its tents without constantly looking out for new horizons, which does not continually strike camp, is being untrue to its calling… (we must) play down our longing for certainty, accept what is risky, and live by improvisation and experiment.” —Hans Kung

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” —Alvin Toffler

“Uncertainty is the only thing to be sure of.”—Anthony Muh

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” —General Eric Shinseki

“If things seem under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” —Mario Andretti

“It is generally much easier to kill an organization than change it substantially.” —Kevin Kelly

“There will be more confusion in the business world in the next decade than in any decade in history. And the current pace of change will only accelerate. —Steve Case

Traits of Good Leaders

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

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At the turn of the century, TIME magazine ran an article on
“Managing to be the Best …The century’s smartest bosses have influence beyond their companies.” These observations stood out:

“Do these four share common traits other than their leadership and superb business acumen? (the four are Coke’s Robert Goizueta, GE’s Jack Welch, GM’s Alfred Sloan, and Panasonic’s Konosuke Matsushita). Yes.

They were curious folks and hence lifelong learners. And they paid attention to people, realizing that the potential of any enterprise hinged on giving subordinates the maximum opportunity to succeed. Even in the 21st century, these characteristics will still be required of great managers.”

What Followers REALLY Need

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

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“Followers want comfort, stability, and solutions from their leaders, but that’s babysitting. Real leaders ask hard questions and knock people out of their comfort zones and then manage the resulting distress.”

Ronald Heifetz and Donald Laurie in “The Work of Leadership,” – Harvard Business Review

Followership

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

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Sam Rayburn, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives:

“You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow.”

Os Guiness in “The Call”:

“Curiously, the twentieth century, which began with some of the strongest leaders in all history – some good like Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, many bad like Lenin and Stalin – ended with a weak style of leadership codependent on followership: the leader as panderer.”

Journalist/Historian Garry Wills:
“...followers may be considered a hazy and not very estimable lot – people to be dominated or served, mesmerized or flattered. We have thousands of books on leadership, none on followership … The ideal seems to be a world in which everyone is a leader … Talk about the nobility of leaders, the need for them, our reliance on them, raises the clear suspicion that followers are not so noble, not needed – that there is something demeaning about being a follower.”

Jesus:
“And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own.” (Luke 16:12)

Muckers

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

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Edison’s Muckers crica 1876

“In selecting what he called his ‘Muckers’, he [Thomas Edison] prized curiosity, reasoning, resilience and versatility over specialization …He was a magnet for talent from all over the world. Over time, a team of virtuosos emerged that he entrusted to deliver on his dreams and generously rewarded in return.”

“Edison was one of the boys yet still the authoritative leader. If expectations on his team were at times impossibly high, the atmosphere was informal and freewheeling. The ‘Muckers’ did not work to any rules,’ said Edison, ‘because they were trying to achieve something.’ Announcing momentous success before the solution was even in his view. He stretched his Muckers, creating an astounding esprit de corps in the process.”


God, give me a life surrounded by a growing number of “muckers!”

(Quotes are from Bill Fischer, professor of technology management at IMD, and Andy Boynton, dean of the Carroll School of Management at Boston College).

Edison the Innovator

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

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I’m on a flight to Eastern Europe and browsing through a British magazine with a synopsis of a study on Thomas Edison, the famous American inventor. Several lines have caught my attention:

“Central to Edison’s success was his ‘invention factory’, bringing together great people, constant prototyping and a culture of innovation and enterprise … He believed that, while ‘books show the theory of things, doing a thing itself is what counts.’ He saw failure as part of the inventive process.”

I continue to be amazed at how movements can ossify and institutionalize. Organizational gravity inevitably pulls toward institutionalization. The justifications used by the bean counters, policy makers, and those who must have rules and regulation are legion: “accountability…stewardship…excellence”...can all be admirable labels for clubs that are used to beat innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit out of an organizational culture.

In my experience the only way to keep an edge and a step ahead of the maintainers is to recruit and empower a steady stream of what Edison called “muckers.” They are the trailblazers who simply need running room and someone to believe in them. That’s why recruiting such men and women in the emerging generation is one of my top priorities. I believe nothing has the capacity to bring about as much lasting, transformational change as this. It’s part of my own personal mission statement. Part of that to which God has called me is:

To challenge, recruit, sponsor and empower growing numbers of godly, high potential leaders into apostolic ministry and

To pioneer, nurture and grow apostolic structures which will multiply leadership for the Church in every nation.

Some Miscellaneous Thoughts on Leading

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Leadership

Occasionally when I have the opportunity for reflection and time to journal, my thoughts go to leadership and what I have learned. There is nothing necessarily profound about these musings other than the fact that I have found them to be real in my experience and I have the scars to prove it. Perhaps they may prove beneficial for others:

• Any effective leader should expect relational conflict and realize that sometimes such conflicts are not resolvable. The onus on a leader in such circumstances is to do whatever is within his/her ability to make things right and then leave the results to God.

• Good leaders …those exercising spiritual leadership …hear from God and are open and sensitive to confirmation of that word through others

• Many mistakes can be avoided by the wisdom of a multitude of counselors. Proverbs is right!

• Followers can shrewdly exploit a leader’s weaknesses and blackmail him/her to the point of impotence and indecisiveness.

• One of the true test of leading is the ability to persevere and press ahead regardless of the opposition.

• Doing what is right for another person’s welfare may be more important than the relationship itself.

• God must be the one who ultimately vindicates a leader’s decisions and reputation.

The Doctrine of Selectivity – Part 2

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Chess
How does one choose whom to invest in when it comes to leadership development and training? In my experience, an array of factors influence such selection including:

Faithfulness – I’m not interested in people who are flakes.
Availability – I cannot pursue someone who doesn’t want to be pursued. I’m looking for eager people.
Teachability – It is not my desire to cram a blessing down anyone’s throat.
Giftedness – I cannot make someone into something where God has not provided the raw material.
Chemistry – If I’m going deep with a person, I need to like them and want to spend time with them.
Character – A core commitment to personal integrity is an essential.
Passion – I’m looking for people who burn with zeal for the things of God.

In the final analysis, the choice is not mine. Before he chose the 12, we find Jesus spending a whole night in prayer with the Father. This illustrates not only the critical nature of such decisions, but the ultimate sovereignty of God in dictating the choices.

The Doctrine of Selectivity – Part 1

Friday, September 15th, 2006

Calling Of Matthew
Some of my greatest mistakes in ministry have been when I have failed, for one reason or another, to embrace this principle of leadership selection.

“This principle of selectivity and concentration is engraved in the universe, and will bring results no matter who practices it, whether the church believes it or not. Some might object to this principle when practiced …on the ground that favoritism is shown toward a select group in the church. But be that as it may, it is still the way that Jesus concentrated His life, and it is necessary if any permanent leadership is to be trained.”

– Robert Coleman in The Master Plan of Evangelism, Chapter 1

In cultures such as mine where egalitarianism strongly influences our understanding of fairness, notions of selectivity run against the grain. If “all men (and women) are created equal,” how can we choose, as Jesus so clearly did, without it appearing discriminatory and prejudicial?

The facts are that sanctified selectivity:

1. Enables one to physically manage relationships and not be spread too thin,
2. Makes it possible to go deep with a few so that the life-change is profound,
3. Is an acknowledgment that not everyone has the gifts and calling to be the object of such intense leadership development,
4. Recognizes that God is at work at different paces and stages with each individual,
5. Is always a means to a much greater end,
6. Is an essential for the sustainability of any movement.

– (Painting is “The Calling of Matthew” by Hendrick Terbrugghen (1588-1629) of the Dutch Utrecht school).

The Master Plan

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

Crowd

“Jesus concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with people whom the multitudes would follow. People … who would lead … were to be his method of winning the world to God. The world is desperately seeking someone to follow. This is the decisive question of our age. The relevance of all that we do waits on its verdict, and in turn, the destiny of multitudes hangs in the balance.”

Probably next to the Bible, the most influential book in my life has been Robert Coleman’s classic little volume, “The Master Plan of Evangelism.” I know that’s a strong statement, but it is not an exaggeration. This is one of those basal books that I return to time and time again. It lays out in simple, yet compelling language a philosophy of ministry that I believe is worth my all.

When this mortal existence is over and done, I would long for nothing more than a legacy that has emulated the life of Jesus in how he imparted vision and life to a handful of those who were his closets followers. I am convinced beyond all doubt that such an investment in the lives of carefully selected leaders, who can in turn multiply to succeeding generations, will affect the course of history and the fate off nations.


“Master Plan of Evangelism, The,” (Robert Emerson Coleman)

Seven Habits of Ineffective Leaders

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

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In my experience, ineffective spiritual leaders:

1. Have issues with authority. They have never learned to be a follower.
2. Experience little closure. They don’t or can’t complete processes. There is a lack of faithfulness in the small things.
3. Gravitate to extremes. For example: there is a demon behind every bush and life is super-spiritualized or they only understand the human dynamic of ministry and there is little room for the supernatural.
4. Have never thought through a clearly articulated philosophy of ministry.
5. Cannot tell the difference between their ambitions and God’s desires, most often because they have never learned to hear from God. Their “theology of guidance” is warped.
6. Do not listen well and don’t ask questions. They are unteachable. Usually, this stems from an arrogant, know-it all, self-absorbed perspective.
7. Are uniquely susceptible to acts of the flesh because they have not dealt with their emotional “stuff” and are unaccountable.

Goodwin’s Expectation Principle

Friday, September 8th, 2006

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Another principle that Clinton emphasizes in strategic leadership transition is Goodwin’s Expectation Principle which comes from a small booklet on leadership written by Bernie Goodwin, published by InterVarsity Press.

“Emerging leaders tend to rise up to the level of genuine expectations of older leaders whom they respect.”

This powerful social dynamic assumes some important pre-requsites:

1. Emerging leaders and older leaders are in relationships of meaning.
2. Older types understand such a principle and see the value in it. They are willing to invest in such relationships.
3. The old heads have also earned the respect of the newcomers. The grey hairs are models worth emulating.
4. The emerging leaders are teachable and desirous of learning from those who have gone before.
5. The older leaders know how to mentor, coach and communicate expectations with a genuineness, humility and transparency that inspires.

I honestly believe that there have been few motivators more powerful in my life than having someone believe in me. I can name the handful whom God has used in such a profound way. They trusted me. They spoke “faith” into my life. They emphasized my strengths and not my weaknesses. They were conduits of God’s grace, kindness and acceptance. They saw for me beyond what I could see for myslef. They enhanced my relationship with Jesus and urged me on in the pursuit of God. They loved me. I would not be who I am today without them.

May I be as faithful in the lives of selected emerging leaders as those who have gone before have been in mine.

Co-Ministry and Emerging Leaders

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

We'll Work Together
It seems so simple. But Clinton’s principle of co-ministry for the development of emerging leadership is profound:

“Co-ministry with higher-level leaders is a must. Such a ministry raises the status of an emerging leader toward the status of the respected leader he/she co-ministers with, gives exposure to the organization’s people, and provides experiential learning.”

There is no substitute for taking someone along. One of the best means I have of sharing and imparting life with younger leaders is to get them out of their comfort zone, travel with me and be immersed in ministry settings around the world. It’s amazing what can be accomplished through many hours together at 35,000 feet in the air, punctuated by on-the-ground experiences with people in the trenches of real life and ministry in cross-cultural venues.

The principle is another way of stating the obvious when we closely examine the life of Jesus. He trained the 12 in the midst of ministry to the multitude. His process was not some isolated, ivory tower experience. Rather, it was an intensely relational form of mentoring which took place in real life with all of its physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Mentoring and Leadership Transitions

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

Bear-Hug
One of Bobby Clinton’s more significant contributions to my own thinking and practice as I move into a new season of ministry responsibility has been regarding “strategic leadership transitions.” Of his ten principles, his comments about mentoring as a primary means are particularly applicable:

“Mentoring (both from within the organization and without) must be intentional and in terms of developmental needs. A whole range of mentoring is needed. There should be short term mentoring as well as long term mentoring. Mentor sponsoring, of course, is the major thrust of the whole strategic leadership transition function. But coaching (of the next needed leadership level skills is a must). Spiritual direction is paramount. Contemporary modeling is a major way younger leaders learn about leadership. Taking younger leaders with you and allowing them to sit in on major problem solving activities and seeing how decisions are made will speed their development as leaders, immensely. Sponsoring is crucial and should be deliberate. This includes linking to important needed resources-including people and finances. Send them to seminars and workshops and conferences and pay for it. Send them to school if that can help, and pay for it.”

Emerging Church and Mission

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

Straight-Jacket

What I wrote in yesterday’s post (9- 2-06) is mostly aimed at the church in its traditional, modern setting.

But what about the “emerging” church? How can those within these creative, emerging expressions of the church who have a passion for the world beyond their own communities be effectively stifled? What could be done to straight jacket what God wants to do with them?

1. Believe that the necessity for such workers and such ministry is passe’, doesn’t exit, or is “too modern for us.”
2. Be so enamored with social justice and a holistic gospel that we fail to embrace the clear commands of scripture regarding the evangelistic mandate or reject such categorization out of hand.
3. Have a lack of appreciation and understanding of the doctrine of spiritual gifts and be unable or unwilling to help identify those emerging leaders who may be gifted and called to ministry across social, linguistic or cultural barriers.
4. Convince them that just because they are enjoying life as a missional community in one cultural milieu, they can then duplicate the same forms of community in another.
5. Help them buy into the theological and historically naive concept that structurally the church in its local expression is the same as the church in its cross-cultural missionary form.
6. Encourage them to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the past 500 years of missionary activity and missiological understanding. Write it all off as modern, institutional or non-organic.
7. While astutely helping them apply missiological eyes to their own mono-cultural settings much better than their modern brethren, simultaneously fail in helping them to apply the same understanding to the international and cross-cultural dimensions of the missio dei.
8. Embrace a theological posture that says only “presence” is necessary for kingdom influence.
9. Consider hell a repulsive, outmoded concept for the postmodern mind and work to erase any motivation that could stem from the biblical reality that people without Jesus risk eternity separated from God.
10. Be like many of those committed to the radical discipleship movement or the Anabaptist tradition who have been so concerned for the purity of the church and living counter-culturally that they are rarely able to engage contemporary culture and instead, remain irrelevantly on the fringes.
11. Encourage them to read, think, write and blog about being missional but don’t empower them to do much in practice.
12. Write off mentors from the over 50 crowd as out of touch and irrelevant.
13. Inculcate such an anti-institutional bias and suspicion of authority that they become useless in a neo-monastic or sodalic ministry context which will require discipline, followership and sacrifice.