Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ReTool Leadership Part 4 - Equip to Gather or Scatter?

Leadership can simply be described as influence.  In the community of saints, leaders are to be influencing people to be more like Jesus.  Leaders are at their best when they are encouraging people to be headed in the direction of Jesus.   We have learned that leaders are to be ‘among’ the people, not over them (1 Peter 5:1-5).   When leaders are among or with people, relationships deepen, hearts are exposed (on both sides) and  leaders are then able to hear the peoples hearts, know their needs and gently and lovingly help them to orient their lives in the direction of Jesus (health).  Like a medical Doctor who knows their patients history and currently symptoms, they can skillfully point believers in the path of spiritual health.  It is then up to the individual to choose to move on that path.  Leadership is influencing people to become more like Jesus and activate their gifts so they can be effective in the realm God has intentionally placed them.

For many leaders today, influencing is done by speaking to larger groups of people the truth from Scripture that should be taught.  Week after week, spiritual leaders around the world give talks to groups of people urging them to put their outlines into action.  Their intentions are good but the results fall short week after week only to find them trying hard again to deliver a home run the following week.  Their messages often urge people to be the ‘salt and light of the world’ but living it out doesn’t seem to be happening.  People are more likely to shuffle out of church, back to their jobs and T.V. programs only to show up again in a couple of weeks to hear another stimulating speech.  This cycle is in part propagated because their is a disconnect.  The disconnect is that the success of the leader is found in the gathering of the believers together instead of the scattering of the believers into the world.  The focus and energy of most leaders throughout the week is on how to draw in and keep the people interested in their worship services and sermons instead of spending time praying, dreaming , designing ways of scattering their people effectively throughout the week.

An Example
Some time ago I was talking to a pastor friend who was telling a story about a new person in their church who wanted to become a member.  The pastor made an appointment with this man to interview him, find out about his faith and tell him about their system of becoming a member.  During the conversation with this man, my pastor friend discovered that the man did not actually understand the gospel nor had he given his life to Jesus.  After a strong and appropriate conversation about salvation by grace, the man wanted to learn more but was not ready to make a decision.  My friend then gave a book by a very good and famous author on the basics of faith and instructed him to read this book so they could have further conversations.  After my friend finished this story I looked at him and asked him why he didn’t ask the man to read the Bible and instead gave him a book about the Bible?  My pastor friend thought about this and turned red with a slight embarrassment.  I then pointed out that it was possible that this man was handicapped at that moment.  He wanted to know Jesus and the Bible and he had some sound conversations about Jesus and the Bible with the pastor (the ‘holy man’) but after that conversation, when he needed to do homework, he was given a book about the Bible.  The message this communicates is that the common person may not be able to understand the Bible on their own, they need a ‘holy man’ to understand it so the ‘holy man’ gave him a book about the Bible (written by another ‘holy man’).

How did my friend use his influence to train this man seeking to be a member of his church?  Unfortunately, he influenced him from the beginning to be dependent upon the system of the church and a ‘holy man’ instead of pointing him to Jesus and to learn from His word directly.  The man was urged to come back to church the following week (a good thing) but not urged/influenced to seek the truth for himself or to share his journey with those in and around his life.  This was an opportunity missed to help this man learn that he could be immediately effective in the world God had called him to.
What do you think about this?

Next time we’ll explore some Biblical foundations for leaders to be equipping the saints to be scattered, not gathered.