February 27, 2015
by Floyd
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How Jesus Related to People

Part Two… 

2.  Community

From the crowds, came the seekers.  One senses in reading the Gospels that there were people in and out of Jesus’ life who were actively seeking to know more.  Some of them are made known to us in the gospel accounts, like Nicodemus, Zacchaeus, or the Roman centurion.  There must have been many more who were actively interested in hearing His teachings.  They were people who had listened to Jesus speaking, seen Him perform miracles, or had heard about Him and wanted to know more.  Different people had different reasons for seeking Jesus: some were sincere, others wanted to find fault with Him, and still others were motivated by curiosity.  Some were desperate for help.  Jesus’ response to seekers was very different from His response to large crowds.  He was more personal, but not always more friendly.  He was probing, questioning, and He almost always asked or demanded something costly from seekers.  Jesus tested them, but in a pro-active and loving kind of way.  He would give them something to do, a step to take, to show they were prepared to pay the price necessary to actually follow Him.  Jesus did not continually dispense truth to seekers if they did not show that they were willing to obey what He had already taught them.

Jesus modeled for us how to arouse the interest of people through telling stories and doing miracles.  But we also learn from Him how to ask seekers to go beyond spiritual curiosity or the miracle they have experienced, to hearing and obeying His teachings.  If they took one step, Jesus led them to the next.  Because we have the advantage of knowing the parable of the Sower, the seed and the soil, we know that Jesus understood that the hearts of people were all different.  Some were hard, some were responsive; and of those that were responsive, not all were genuine or lasting.

There are many examples in the Gospels of Jesus’ interaction with this group of the not-yet-committed as He invites them to be obedient disciples:

  • Matthew 8:18-22
  • John 6:60-66
  • Luke 5:4-5, 27-28
  • Luke 8:19-21
  • Luke 14:25-33

For Jesus, evangelism was disciple-making.

Personal Application

Our ‘community’ is people we have personal contact with.  They are people who show spiritual interest, or who will show interest, if we pray for them and take time for them.  Make a list of people who you know personally who don’t know Jesus.  Those are the ‘seekers’ God has placed in your life that comprise your ‘community’.

3.  Core group disciples 

The core group disciples were those who were attracted to Jesus, who subsequently crossed a threshold in their lives and decided to trust Jesus.  Understanding grew gradually in the hearts of the disciples of what it meant to obey Jesus.  Jesus deliberately selected some of His followers for more responsibility.  It says in Luke 6: 12 that from those who were with Him, He chose twelve for apostolic responsibility; that is, to be set aside, fully ready to obey Jesus.

At this point terminology can fail us.  There seem to have been many of Jesus’ disciples who were not fully in or fully out.  Jesus left it purposefully that way.  He did not draw up a list of rules like the Pharisees of His day, and decide – based on strict adherence to His ‘rules and regulations’ of discipleship – who was ‘in’ or ‘out’.  Jesus invited people to be His disciples by drawing them to Himself, rather than by establishing an ‘in or out’ closed society.  But there was no question about whether He wanted obedience from His core team – that had to be absolute, because He stood at the centre of the new community He was creating.  There were people who were called disciples, but who had not counted the cost of following Jesus all the way – “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66).  Jesus asked the twelve whom He had appointed to share leadership responsibility with Him if they, too, wanted to leave Him.  Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Personal application 

Understanding the paradoxes of discipleship is crucial to this process of moving from crowds, to a community of seekers, to a core group of disciples.  This is not a hard and fast method, but a process to follow in order to find people in whom we can invest our lives.

Sharing Jesus is partly about discerning the ‘crowd’ in our lives, building relationships with a ‘community of seekers’ and then selecting a core group of potential disciples to invest in.  Sharing Jesus – what we typically refer to as evangelism – cannot be separated from a process of finding those who are responsive to Jesus.

Jesus taught and modeled the way in which to discern how open people are to the good news (Luke 8:4 and following).  He respected people, but also challenged them to go further in their search for God.  In the parable of the Sower, Jesus compared the good news to seed sown into the soil of people’s hearts.  The ‘soil’ represented four different types of people’s readiness to hear His message.  Jesus told this story to His disciples to help them to discern the soil condition of people’s hearts.  In Luke 8:11, Jesus explained to them that the ‘seed’ is the message from God to people.  Luke begins chapter 8 by saying that “Jesus. . . began a tour of the nearby cities and villages to announce the Good News concerning the Kingdom of God. . .”  In His parable, the ‘sower’ of the seed is the disciples themselves.

 

February 25, 2015
by Floyd
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How Jesus Related To People

This is Part One of an exerpt from my book ‘Follow’…

We can discover the answer to the question of what evangelism is, in looking at how Jesus related to people.  In my study of the gospels, I have found it very helpful to realize that there were patterns of how Jesus related to three different categories of people: the crowds, seekers who approached Him to learn more, and those He invited to be His disciples.  I summarize these three groups in this way:

  1. Crowds  –  those that gathered spontaneously or at Jesus’ instigation.
  2. Community  –  seekers and followers who responded to Jesus – some out of curiosity and some who were sincere.
  3. Core group  –  disciples who chose to follow Jesus – those Jesus invited to follow Him and learn from His way.

Let’s go over these three groups in a little more detail, because each of us as a follower of Jesus has the same three groups of people in our lives. 

  1. Crowds

We may not heal people like Jesus did, but we all have a good sized group of people we know and interact with, including neighbors, people at work, family, etc.  Those people are our ‘crowd’.  Just as Jesus did good deeds and shared good news with all those He encountered, so can we.  On a ‘crowd’ level, Jesus did not try to accomplish what could be done only through personal relationship; He did reach out to people in order to influence them and was intentional about reaching people – but with distinctly different approaches.  My estimate is that He spent far more time interacting with small groups and individuals than He did with crowds, perhaps spending 75 percent of His time with His disciples.  I think Jesus saw interaction with the crowds as a way of ‘planting a seed’ in people’s hearts (Luke 8:4-18); a way of arousing spiritual interest, and also a way of finding potential spiritual seekers and disciples to teach.

In every instance where Jesus interacts with large groups of people, He responds in one of seven ways:

  1. He taught them and shared the good news with them – usually by speaking loudly so the entire group could hear Him.
  2. He had compassion on them.
  3. He healed scores of them.
  4. He fed them – He didn’t hand out the food Himself, but He found a way for them to receive food.
  5. He brought certain ones to life who were dead among them.
  6. He defended them from the religious leaders who mislead them.
  7. He inspired people to imagine life the way God intended it to be.

If you made a list of everyone you have in your cell phone and email list, those are all people you have connected with.  From this group of people, God wants to give you a few that you relate to more personally.

The one thing Jesus consistently did not do in all His interactions with large groups of people was that He did not pressure them to become one of His disciples.  He did not invite people to join Him as one of His close-up followers – He did that one-on-one.  He did try to arouse the spiritual interest of people.  He did speak to stir up their dreams and expectations for what could come from their lives if they sought after God and we should do the same.

From a big-picture point of view, Jesus was aware and intentional about making sure that the people in certain regions knew about Him.  He sent His disciples ahead of Him to all the towns and cities He planned to visit (see Luke 10:1).  That is not an uncommon phrase or sentiment in the gospels.  These verses are examples of the deliberate attempt by Jesus to spread the good news of His Kingdom far and wide:

  • Mark 1:38
  • Matthew 9:35
  • Mark 6:6
  • Luke 13:22

One thrust of the great commission that Jesus gave to His disciples was to take the good news everywhere.  He told them to “go into all the world”, and to “make disciples of all nations”.

Personal application 

How do you apply the ‘crowd’ idea to your life situation?  Jesus wants every person in your sphere of influence, in your relational and family network and in your geographical setting, to hear the good news.  He especially wants you to be aware of those around you who suffer.  That does not mean you are personally responsible for each of them, but you will never fully know your part in taking Jesus to the people in your ‘crowd’ if you are not praying for them to hear about and experience the love and mercy of God, found in Jesus.  That includes those at your place of work, your university, your neighborhood, your village, and in nearby disadvantaged communities.  God has placed you where He has placed you for a reason.  You become that person by being a listening ear, someone to debrief with after a hard day, a safe person to talk to when burdened with life.  Visit neighbors, walk around during coffee breaks at work, or take time to hang out with fellow students in your school, college or university.  Jesus wants to reach each person in your ‘crowd’ – through you.

‘Community’ and ‘Core Group’ to follow in Part Two

February 23, 2015
by Floyd
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Jesus Started a Church

Perhaps the most radical thing Jesus did while on earth, besides taking the punishment for our sins on the cross, was starting a church. There is generally agreement amongst Bible scholars and theologians that what Jesus did with His disciples was not a church.

But I disagree. Jesus said He would build His church – not just after His ascension into heaven. He started His church while He lived on earth, planning for it to multiply to the ends of the earth.

He and His band of followers did all the things we agree are essential to function as a church. They functioned as a spiritual family doing life together, pursuing relationship with the Father, and serving the world around them. They fulfilled the qualifications for doing church the way we see it modeled in the book of Acts.

The disciples learned the new way of being a covenant community from their Master. After His ascension, they realized He had given them a model to follow – and they followed it. It was more than a model, in fact, it was a way to live intentionally together.

Jesus didn’t add a lot of frills to His church. In fact, He subtracted from the Old Testament way of doing things: He took away the uniforms, He got rid of the barriers between men and women and Jews and Gentiles, and He empowered everyone to be a priest. He didn’t ask for their money, organize a choir, or choose one particular day over another to gather for worship.

No holy day, no holy priests, and no holy meeting place. When you stop to think about it, it was a radical model of simplicity and mission: worship and prayer, community and care, and reaching out as a way of life.

He taught them how to be leaders by serving. He walked beside His followers, not above them. Yet, He was clearly the leader.

He bridged the dualism of the Old Testament, calling for a radical new kind of spirituality. He taught spirituality of the heart, not outward behavior. Every person who followed Him was treated with equal value and given equal responsibility. Yet, with this new emphasis on being a spiritual family, He recognized and modeled the need for servant leadership.

I love how Jesus did church. He only mentions church twice in His teachings, and it is interesting to note it was Matthew, the most Jewish of the gospel writers, who records Jesus’ teaching on the “new church” way of being God’s people.

In Matthew 16 and 18 Jesus teaches about church…but that is for another blog post and another day….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 16, 2015
by Floyd
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How To Get Vision For Your Life

Vision for our lives is a clear mental picture of what could be. A vision for our lives is an inspiring picture of what could happen through our service to God and to others.

Vision is also an inner longing for something you have not yet experienced but believe God wants to see happen through you.

Vision is not limited to those who serve as ministers or missionaries. God has a specific vision for every person who follows Jesus.

On December 17, 1903 Orville Wright flew the first sustained airplane flight from level ground. He flew 37 meters for 12 seconds. The Wright brothers had a clear mental picture of what could be. That picture, and the inner longing to see it happen is what motivated them to dedicate their lives to ‘flight’ becoming a reality.

Every time I step onto an airplane I marvel that the Wright brothers had such an outlandish vision. I am thankful they gave their lives for the vision to become a reality because it means that I can travel the world, fulfilling my vision.

Vision without commitment is actually just fantasy. The Wright brothers had to have commitment and endurance to go with their vision. It took years of sacrifice and rejection by friends for their vision to become a reality.

Vision precedes reality. How do you picture your life in ten years? What do you picture yourself accomplishing? Take a moment to write it down – that is your vision.

Vision is powerful because it gives significance to the mundane details and the not-so-mundane difficulties of our lives.

Without a vision people languish in mediocrity and mundaneness.

Whatever you do, get a vision for your life!

Vision weaves four things into the fabric of our lives:

  1. Passion. Vision evokes intense emotion. There is no such thing as an emotionless vision. A clear, focused vision allows us to experience ahead of time the emotions associated with our anticipated future. Passion is more than intense desire, it is the willingness to suffer and sacrifice for our desire to be fulfilled.
  1. Motivation. Vision provides inspiration. It gives us a reason to do things, to make sacrifices, to say no to other opportunities. Vision driven people are very motivated. They WANT to get things done.
  1. Direction. Vision takes us in a particular direction. It serves as a roadmap. Vision leads us to our destiny. Vision simplifies decision-making. I love sports. I loved and played basketball. But when I got a vision for my life, I did something that shocked my friends. I gave up basketball. I quit my team in the middle of season. Something more important had taken hold of my heart. I went back to basketball later in the season, but then it was a means to a far greater end goal: my God given vision.
  1. Purpose. Vision gives you a reason to do what you do. Vision gives purpose and purpose gives us momentum to move in a direction. A vision gives you the clarity of purpose to overcome barriers and make sacrifices. Another way to say this is vision gives us a reason for what we do.

The Divine Element

God has a vision for your life. You were dreamed over by God before you were born. His part was to create us with purpose and vision, and our part is to discover it. When God speaks to us He turns possibilities in our lives into a conviction and a hope for our future.  God has a mental picture of who you can be and what can be accomplished through your life. By hearing from God we begin to believe in our vision.

Knowing your vision is from God turns a possible dream into a must-do conviction. Above all things, seek God for His vision for your life… but remember, He won’t reveal it to the casual person who doesn’t care enough to ask Him and to seek him diligently.

Practically speaking, how does God use the circumstances of our lives to give us vision? 

Three ways:

  1. By seeing a need and responding to the need – doing something about it
  2. Being dissatisfied with what is happening around you in life
  3. Hearing from God that He wants to use you to make a difference

How do you discover your vision?

Take some time to LOOK…

  • Look within you – what is your passion?  What has God already spoken to you about? What strong desire is growing in you? Submit it to the Lord and if it grows, accept it as a calling, a vision from God for your life. Psalm 37:4-5
  • Look behind you – how have past lessons and experiences prepared you to pursue your vision? What experiences and people has God used to speak to you and grow certain desires and convictions in you?
  • Look around you – what’s happening around you in the circumstances and relationships of your life that God has used to stir vision in you? There are people that God has placed in your life to speak vision into your life.
  • Look ahead of you – what do you want to accomplish with your life? It may be that the desires and dreams you have for you future are God’s way of speaking to you, of giving you vision for your life.
  • Look above you – what part does God play in your life and dream? How has God spoken to you in the past? Write down the promises God has given you. If you don’t have any, ask God for them and keep your ears alert to note them when He speaks. Read the Bible with expectancy… what would God like to speak to you from His Word?
  • Look beside you – what resources are available to you? What skills and abilities do you have that you can use to make a difference in people’s lives? Use them. Offer them in service. Get involved.
  • Look alongside you – who can partner with you in this pursuit? Are you part of a community of faith? Are their great people who share your concerns and convictions? They are there for a reason.

The Vision and Calling of All Nations:

In 1993 God impressed on Sally and I this simple but huge vision: Jesus worshipped by all the nations of the earth.

So, with a few friends, we started on a journey to turn that vision into a reality. Today, All Nations works in 35 countries – and is growing. Our workers have seen tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of people come to faith, discipled and gathered in communities of faith that are impacting villages, cities and nations.

Working closely with friends and co-workers in the All Nations family of churches, we defined some specific goals to turn our vision into a mission: to make disciples and train leaders to ignite church planting movements among the neglected peoples of the earth.

That is our vision… we invite you to join us to see it become a reality. But if not with us, then you live out your vision with others who share your vision. As we all live our visions for the Lord, as varied as they may be, we are in this together!

All of life is spiritual if it is lived for God! There are no secular or sacred visions. Every vision from God is sacred, is spiritual. The market place is a spiritual place to live out your vision if that is where God wants you.

Don’t be intimidated or think of yourself as less than “full time” for God if you serve Him in the market place. That is GOD’S vision for you! 

Whatever vision God has given you, wherever He has placed you to follow that vision, if it is from God, it is worth giving your life for! Go for it!

 

February 9, 2015
by Floyd
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Peddling Pictures of Jesus

Christians have many different mental pictures of what Jesus is like, but only the true Jesus of Scripture is worthy of our devotion. It is possible that the mental picture we have of Jesus is one of our own creation, a Jesus we have created in our image to serve our desires and needs.

When I was a student in university, I went door-to-door selling very large, religious prints of Jesus to make a little extra money. Whatever your idea of Jesus, I had a picture of Jesus just for you. I sold Jesus the gentle shepherd, Jesus watching over the children, Jesus knocking at the door of our hearts, and Jesus with the sacred heart.

After a while, I became embarrassed about what I was doing and stopped peddling pictures of Jesus.

Our focus should be Jesus – but much more than a picture of who we think Jesus should be. Not the Jesus of the pictures I peddled. The real Jesus.

Jesus is more than a great religious leader. In fact, Jesus did not come to start a new religion – he came to fulfill the ideals of every religion and the longings of every human heart. Jesus is for anyone who will follow Him on His terms.

Jesus is the greatest hero of history. He is the symbol and reality of sacrificial service to others. He is the smiling, laughing friend of children, and the serious consultant of leaders in every religion, drawing them from dependence on their good deeds to find Him as the source of all goodness.

How do we know the real Jesus?

We read His words, listen to the stories He told, study His actions, and then allow what we hear and see to seep down into the deepest places of our hearts. Allow Him to challenge the status quo of our already accepted ideas, and then to challenge and change our views of people, religions, enemies, and difficult neighbors.

Just Jesus. Do it for a time. Lay aside your already set ideas of the truth, and allow Jesus to be your truth. Let Him lead you to new understanding and appreciation for who He is.

 

 

February 9, 2015
by Floyd
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Leading In The Flesh

Esau: The Man Who Sold His Destiny for Momentary Gratification

Genesis 25:25 – 34

“ See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness spring up and cause trouble, for by it many become defiled; see to it that no one be immoral or irreligious like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he lost out, for he found no chance, though he sought it with tears.”    Hebrews 12: 15-17

Spiritual leaders will either lead in the flesh or the Spirit.  Leaders who are impatient, demanding, rude and manipulative are men and women of the “flesh.”  God gives us our personalities and spiritual gifts, but it is our responsibility to submit them to the Lordship of Jesus.  A wise and discerning leader knows when his spiritual gifts and personality are led by the Spirit and when they are driven by the flesh.

The Bible has much to say about leading in the flesh.  Such a leader does not lead from a place of being secure in who they are in Christ.  Instead, they lead as men or women trying to prove their importance. They lead through corruption, sexual immorality, control and anger.  We either lead in the Spirit or in the flesh.  The two do not mix.

Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for momentary gratification of the flesh.  He came home from a hunting trip and was so hungry that he felt like he would starve.  He did not wait for the meal to be cooked and served to him.  He gave away his birthright in order to get what he wanted immediately.

He created a flesh legacy instead of a spiritual legacy.  He was a man of destiny, but he sold his destiny for momentary gratification.

Esau was destined to be in the lineage of kings and rulers but he chose a legacy of impatience and fleshly passion.  Through his descendants the Messiah was to come.  Instead, his decedents were the Edomites and the Amalekites…the enemies of God.  The Herods, who ruled Palestine in the time of Christ, were descendants of the Edomites and Amalekites.  Instead of Esau’s lineage producing the Messiah, it produced the man who crucified Him.

Esau was a child of God’s covenant but because he didn’t live by the spirit, he sold the blessings of the covenant to satisfy his fleshly appetite.  There was a great gulf between what Esau believed and what he lived.  He was blessed but did not enjoy the blessing God had for him.  Esau lived in the camp of his own Father but did not enjoy his father’s blessings.  The passions of the flesh cry out, “feed me” “take care of me” “comfort me” “notice me” “entertain me” and give it to me when I want it!  So it is that small decisions can have big consequences.

The flesh does not want to wait.  No wonder Paul said, “I die daily…I am crucified with Christ.”  He also said, ”…do not gratify the desires of the flesh, for the desires of the flesh are against the spirit…for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would….” Galatians 5:17

Paul the Apostle uses the word “flesh” in different ways in his letters to the young churches he planted:

  1. It can refer to the physical body
  2. It can refer to worldly, sinful passions and desires
  3. It can refer to dependence on religious duty to gain favor with God

In short, the flesh is anything we do or believe to find security, comfort and significance from any source other than Jesus.

For example:

Romans 6:19 “…because of the weakness of your flesh…”

Romans 7:5 “…in the flesh, the sinful passions which were stirred up in you…”

Romans 7:25 “…with my mind I serve the law of God, but with the flesh I serve the law of sin…”

Galatians 5:16 “…the flesh lusts against the Spirit…”

Living in spiritual poverty is easier than being responsible with God’s blessings!  Giving in to the flesh is easier than the daily discipline of a man or woman of diligence and faithfulness.

The choice is ours: will we choose the way of impatience, giving in to the demands of our passions and desires, or will we cultivate the fruit of the Spirit by denying the flesh and submitting to God?

We are invited to sow to the Spirit, not the flesh.  God’s word invites us to believe the promises of God about who we are as His loved sons and daughters.

 

February 6, 2015
by Floyd
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10 Benefits of Small Groups

  1. Small groups create opportunity for personal development and spiritual growth.
  2. Small groups are great places to meet new friends and build personal relationships.
  3. Small groups allow a movement or large community to communicate and network.
  4. Small groups are the best platform to find purpose: large meetings build identity but small groups build purpose.
  5. Small groups provide connecting points for people.
  6. Small groups are an ideal setting for leadership development: they are a pipeline for feeding leaders into the larger community and movement.
  7. Small groups meeting in homes are a more intimate and secure setting for people to share their lives.
  8. Small groups encourage people to meet each other’s needs.
  9. Small groups provide family for those who are separated from their biological family.
  10. Small groups provide an ideal opportunity for honest question asking and discussion.

February 5, 2015
by Floyd
1 Comment

10 Habits of Highly Effective Small Group Leaders

They are positive and encouraging

They pray for their members

They are a servant facilitator to others

They keep the group looking outward to reach others

They contact members of the group regularly

They mentor an apprentice leader

They plan fun times together

They are vulnerable and approachable

They are learners with everyone else

They don’t dominate discussions with their opinions

February 4, 2015
by Floyd
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Five Keys To Effective Small Group Leadership

There are five keys to leading an effective small group:

Love

Life

Listen

Learn 

Lead

Good leadership is more about love than technical skill or experience. Anyone can lead a small group if they practice these five principles:

LOVE the people in the group

  • The best way to lead a group is to love and care for the members of the group. Serve them food or coffee/tea with a smile, remember their names, welcome them warmly into your home/space.
  • You learn to love people by praying for them by name. The secret is to ask God to put His love in your heart for each person.
  • Learn to see people the way God sees them. Look for their potential and affirm their strengths.
  • Cultivate a culture of encouragement in the group – it spreads the grace of God.
  • People feel valued when you take time to hear their story.
  • Begin each meeting by asking several members of the group to share in one sentence something they are thankful for.
  • Establish simple guidelines for group participation (e.g., each person has opportunity to share once before others share more than once, etc.)

LIFE outside the small group creates deeper life in the small group

  • The depth of life inside the group is determined by sharing life together outside the group. A small group can be more than a meeting – it can grow into a caring family.
  • Call people after small group meetings, or text them, or get together for a cup of coffee. Let people know you are thinking about them and praying for them.
  • Encourage people to get together between meeting times. You don’t have to meet with everyone in the group, but encourage everyone to meet with someone.
  • Encourage everyone in the group to form a prayer partnership with one other person.

LISTEN to people’s stories and experiences

  • Ask open ended questions.
  • Hear hearts  – learn to read body language.
  • Be a good observer and pray for discernment.
  • Acknowledge people’s emotions (tiredness, discouragement, joy, etc.)
  • Ask one or two members to share a need and take time to pray for them.
  • Celebrate honest attempts to grow even if there is failure.
  • Create a safe place for people to be real.

LEARN by obeying not by focusing on knowledge

  • Take pressure off yourself to have all the answers.
  • Don’t give the answers and tell people what to believe. People remember what they observe, not what they hear.
  • Holy Spirit is the best teacher – let Him do His job.
  • Self-discovery is a more powerful way for people to learn.
  • The Bible is the source – keep pointing people to the Word of God.
  • Don’t be a talkative teacher – be a fellow learner.

LEAD with simple skills

  • Be a facilitative leader – “set the table” and invite people to eat.
  • Agree on guidelines for discussion and confidentiality.
  • If you need help seek advise from your leaders.

 

 

February 2, 2015
by Floyd
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Leadership: Context Determines Contextualization

Context is the often over looked ingredient in any leadership system. Many a leader has made the fundamental error of solving problems on a tactical level without addressing the larger system in which they operate.

Leaders with visionary gifts can lose their true self in trying too hard to solve problems. Doing what they do best will do more to solve problems than giving inordinate amounts of time to individual crisis.

Perhaps there is no leader alive today who faces a more complex leadership “system” than Pope Francis. The pope came into power and immediately faced a dizzying array of problems, including scandals involving sexual abuse of children, corruption in the financial institutions of the church, an Italian priestly mafia controlling the curia, and resistance to change throughout the hierarchy of the church.

Pope Francis has had the impressive ability to address particular problems plaguing the church without losing sight of the greater context: a global community longing for a pastor who is emotionally engaged with the periphery, and not just focused on the center.

There are many leadership qualities of this pope that have allowed him to lead innovation and change, but chief amongst them is an intuitive emotional connection with the people. His style is relational not autocratic.

His engaging personality and warmth, his concern for the poor, his endearing communication style, and his transparent conviction about the mission of the church to serve people has allowed him to ignite hope once again in the church.

This is a lesson for all leaders to learn, not just in terms of leadership style, but in keeping in mind the context in which one serves.