Is It Really Possible?

Is it possible to complete the great commission?  And if it is possible to "make disciples of all nations" as Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28, should it be something we should really worry about? I believe we should.  So does Mary Ho of All Nations, Grandview, Missouri.

The following is an article written by Mary, calling us to give very serious attention to "completion".  Completion of the Great Commission in this Generation has become a rallying cry for many people in the body of Christ in the last hundred years.  And it is making a difference!

Making Our Lives Count for Zero - by Mary Ho

Two transformational moments altered my life. The first was that Jesus called me when I was 17 years old to follow Him. The second was that eight years ago—after already following Jesus for 25 years— I found a truth that overturned my life. The truth is that our generation lives in the most pivotal time of history since Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection! Throughout history, some generations have laid foundations; others have built. But I believe we are born into the generation that will complete the Great Commission. Jesus has passed into our hands the baton of finishing the Great Commission in our lifetime—not fifty or a hundred years later. Jesus is calling us to be part of the global initiative to Count for Zero[i]: 0 people groups without fulltime workers, 0 languages without a Bible translation, and 0 villages without a community of followers. He is calling us to make our lives count for zero, that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord!

When Jesus mandated us to go and make disciples of “all nations” or panta ta ethne in Greek, He was literally commanding us to disciple all the peoples of the world. According to Finishing the Task, of the 16,350 people groups in the world, there are currently only 6,541 people groups “unreached” by the gospel (less than 2 percent evangelicals) and only 3,004 “unengaged” people groups in the world where there are NO KNOWN workers engaging these peoples with the good news. These unengaged unreached people groups (UUPG) urgently need apostolic teams in residence committed to working long-term in the local language and culture and to igniting disciple making movements.

Is this mandate to catalyze a disciple-making movement in every remaining UUPG do-able in our lifetime? According to Operation World, China alone has 100,000 cross-cultural workers and the U.S. alone sends out 93,500 longterm workers to the nations! This mandate to make disciples of every people is more than attainable in our generation. But the sad reality is that only 10 percent of the global workforce goes where it is unreached and unengaged[ii], and where there are no known believers or workers.

Two days ago, Pam Arlund and I just came back from Finishing the Task meetings at Saddleback in California. It was a gathering of practitioners, leaders, and passionate men and women who have given their lives to getting the job done. We heard from a young Muslim background believer who was persecuted for her faith and died. But Jesus gave her a choice to go to heaven or come back, and she chose to come back to share Jesus. Pam and I are in dialogue with a near-culture worker sharing Jesus among 70 unengaged unreached people groups in Asia. On the plane ride, we were grappling with what we need to modify to more effectively trigger movements among the unreached.

I have in my study at home a baton that Pam gave me a year ago inscribed with Paul’s charge to Timothy, “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others” (2:2). Like Paul, we are to make it our ambition to preach where Jesus is not known, and to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. From this meeting, Pam and I have the latest verified list of remaining unengaged unreached people groups (link below). We would like to invite each of you in various nations to prayerfully view this list and adopt at least three groups for prayer, vision trips, engagement and planting communities. Many of the countries you are living in have multiple unreached people groups. India tops this list with 236 UUPGs, then China 208, and Sudan 123. But in this age of global migration, even a European nation like France has 33 UUPGs, Germany 21, and the Netherlands 13. The largest Muslim country of Indonesia has 71 UUPGs, and the smaller country of Oman 27. These unreached people groups are within our reach and often within our geographical radius. So let us divide the task and finish the job!

We as AN family are called to be movement makers. We are called to be the generation that completes the great commission. We are called to make our lives count for zero!

[i] I borrowed the term “count for zero” from Issachar Initiative.

[ii] From Finishing the Task by Ralph Winter and Bruce Koch.

Finishing The Task UUPG list:



The Power of "No"

The excerpts below are from a great article from Psychology Today, titled The Power of No.  I highly commend this article, found on the Psychology Today site:

Here are a few carefully chosen excerpts:

“As a general guideline, five situations benefit from increasing strength to say No.

When it keeps you true to your principles and values. It's a beautiful thing - emotionally, spiritually, and even professionally - to be generous, to be supportive. But, as sociologists Roger Mayer, James Davis, and F. David Schoorman point out in their classic studies of organizations; integrity is as essential as benevolence in establishing interpersonal trust. It is a requirement for effectiveness...

When it protects you from cheerful exploitation by others.  It's remarkable how much some people will ask of you, even demand from you, things for which you yourself wouldn't dream of asking. Protect yourself best from the many who feel entitled to ask by being strong enough to say a firm, clear, calm No....

When it keeps you focused on your own goals.  When her boss criticized her for the second time as a "Chatty Cathy" whose work was late because she wasted too much time talking, Amy felt hurt and unfairly evaluated. Was it her fault that people loved to stop by her cubicle? How was she supposed to turn away Marsha, whose aging mother presented so many problems, or Jim, who wanted her thoughts on the best way to proceed with their clients? Her colleagues needed her support; cutting them short would hurt their feelings and her relationships...

When it protects you from abuse by others.  Sadly, our most important relationships often invite our ugliest communications. In part that's because the people closest to us arouse our strongest emotions, and in part it's because they are the people we fear losing the most. Fear can sap the strength we need to say No, just when we need that power most...

When you need the strength to change course.  The invitations are in the mail, but the impending marriage is a mistake. The job looks good to the rest of the world, but it's making you sick in the morning. Your family has sacrificed to pay the tuition, but law school feels like a poor fit. When you find yourself going down the wrong road, No is the power necessary to turn yourself around....

The problem is getting ourselves to do it. Accessing your own power requires overcoming one huge obstacle: the cost of dishing out No.

Dishing It Out

Simply, No is not a warm send. It's tough to deliver, largely because we have a gut sense of how it will be received - not well...”

What follows in the article is sage advise about how to say no – and the cost of doing read the complete article go to the link above.


Why Jesus Said "No"

Matt 4:1-11  -  Jesus said no to leadership power, position and prestige Matt 5:31-32  -  Jesus says no to divorce for any reason except breaking one's marriage vows

Matt 5:33-37  -  Jesus said no to making superficial oaths

Matt 6:25  -  Jesus said no to worry

Matt 10:34  -  Jesus said no to false unity

Matt 11:20-24  -  Jesus said no to impenitent cities

Matt 12:1-14  -  Jesus said no to religious legalists

Matt 12:32-42  -  Jesus said no to doing miraculous signs

Matt 12:46-50  -  Jesus said no to his mother and brothers

Matt 16:23  -  Jesus said no to a key leader

Matt 17:1-10  -  Jesus said no to staying in God's glory

Matt 17:9  -  Jesus said no to speaking the vision too soon

Matt 17:24-27  -  Jesus said no to disregarding an oppressive government

Matt 21:12-13  -  Jesus said no to exploitation and injustice of the poor

Matt 26:39  -  Jesus said no to taking the easy way out

15 Things To Say "No" To

  1. Say no to negative chatter about others
  2. Say no to emotional entanglement in relationships
  3. Say no to life without margins
  4. Say no to compromising your values
  5. Say no to pleasing people
  6. Say no to being made responsible for the choices of others
  7. Say no if you can't follow through
  8. Say no to the destructive thoughts of your inner-voice against your own self
  9. Say no to people who are not good for you
  10. Say no to jealousy
  11. Say no to being a slave
  12. Say no to bad eating habits
  13. Say no to self-absorption
  14. Say no to lack of accountability in your life
  15. Say no to "great opportunities" - to stay true to family and calling

The Fruit of Your Labors Will Follow You - Part Three

Jesus had fruit that followed him because he lived a determined life.  He cultivated the heart of a warrior and the lifestyle of a lover. He was fiery, he was focused, he was secure. Everything he did flowed out of a secure, love relationship with the Father. This kind of love is warfare… not necessarily an aggressive, frontal attack kind of warfare, but warfare born of love. Having spiritual fruit that follows us to heaven is the result of fighting for what we love and believe in on earth.

To attack a baby with it’s mother nearby is an invitation to a fight. A mother defends her children to the death because of love. She conceived them in intimacy, birthed them in pain, and nursed them with tender care. They are hers. They belong to her and she to them.

Whether male or female, extrovert or introvert, we are all called to warfare. Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan.” Paul said, “I have fought the good fight.”  These words speak of facing trials, tests and being overcomers by fighting for what is ours.

Having fruit that follows us is the result of living a well-directioned life. We face forward, toward the prize. We look forward to hearing “well done.” We know the direction God has called us to face and we face it…not to the right, not the left, but straight ahead.

God determines forward for you. It may not be my forward, but it is your forward. It is the right direction.

We each are assigned a destiny in life... God shapes us and lays sovereign foundations in our lives:  our race, our culture, our ancestry, our personalities and gifts... these are His gifts to us.  It is up to us to receive these “gifts” and develop them for the specific purpose he has for our lives.

If we are to take hold of our destiny, it will be the result of fierce focus on the main thing, that one thing, the purpose and calling of God for our lives. Those who give in to difficult circumstances and challenges in life, those who lose sight of God’s direction for them, lose out.

Having fruit that follows us is the result of living a well-disciplined life. Jesus refused to compromise the truth. He spent time with the Father on a regular basis. He said “no” to lesser passions. He cultivated a life of fasting, prayer, scripture reading and speaking about the Father.

When some of his disciples fell away, Jesus stayed true to the Father. When he faced suffering and death, Jesus said to the Father, “Let this cup pass from me...but never-the-less, your will not mine be done.”

This is not a popular Twitter topic. It’s not news-feed you read much about on FB. There is a well-deserved reaction to religion versus relationship amongst young evangelicals, I agree, but with that reaction we must not throw out the good with the bad. Don’t throw out spiritual disciplines to avoid un-spiritual religion.

By-all-means enjoy life. Life is God’s gift to us to be celebrated. Laugh, play, watch a good movie, exercise, enjoy your friends. Healthy spirituality includes rhythms in life of play, pray and obey.

But as you play, don’t leave out pray and obey. Don’t let God’s grace in your life be in vain. Lay hold of that for which God has laid hold of you. He has a plan for you, he has a destiny for you... don't lost sight of it and don't lose hope for it. It is from God and therefore it is worth fighting for!

It is written of Jesus, “For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross.” Some things are to be endured faithfully so we can rejoice fiercely!


The Fruit of Your Labors Will Follow You - Part Two

At a very young age, seeking to recruit a friend to join him in China, Robert Morrison wrote these words, “I wish I could persuade you to accompany me. Take into account the 350 million souls in China who have not the means of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior…”

The year was 1806. At this time, except for the purpose of trade, foreigners were forbidden entrance into China. Every foreigner, on landing, was strictly interrogated as to what his business might be. If he did not have a reasonable answer to give, he was sent back on the next sailing vessel. Morrison was aware of the dangers but was still willing to go in faith, believing Jesus would open a door for him to stay in China.

Reading about the life of Robert Morrison, I am reminded of the fierce focus of Paul the apostle:

“I consider my life worth nothing to me...if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me” (Acts 20:24)

At about the same time these words were spoken to the Ephesian elders, Paul also wrote to his young disciple Timothy and said,

“...the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (II Timothy 4:6-8).

Paul lived with the expectation that there was a reward awaiting him. He pictured Jesus awarding him on “that day.” It was the vision of Jesus in the future that kept him going in the present. It was the pure picture of pleasing Jesus that ensured the fruit of his labors would follow him.

I too, look forward to that day, don’t you? Can you picture it in your minds eye?

Take a moment and imagine it... you are kneeling before Jesus. As you are bowed in worship, He gently reaches out to you, puts His hand under your chin and lifts your gaze to look into His eyes, He astonishes you by placing a crown on your head. It is the reward given to the faithful who have stayed focused on Jesus.

In response, you take off the crown Jesus gave you and cast it at His feet, acknowledging that your greatest reward is the reward He receives from those who are gathered to worship Him. It is the fruit of your labors on earth that will follow you into heaven.

It is this vision of the future that sustains us in the present.

The Fruit of Your Labors Will Follow You - Part One

RobertMorrison My wife, Sally, and I visited the cemetery in Macau, China, where Robert Morrison and his first wife, Mary, are buried. Robert Morrison was the first Protestant missionary to China. He lived 52 short years and died in Canton in 1834.

During his twenty-five years of work as a missionary he translated the whole Bible into the Chinese language and baptized ten Chinese believers. Today there are an estimated 180 million Chinese followers of Jesus Christ – amazing fruit for a man who only baptized 10 converts in his lifetime.

Robert Morrison focused on Jesus his whole life. Just Jesus. During the 27 years he served in China he kept his focus on Jesus. He went home on furlough only once in all those years.

When Robert Morrison was asked, shortly after his arrival in China, if he expected to have any spiritual impact on the Chinese... his answer was:  “No sir, but I expect God will!”

He did what he did for Jesus. He knew there was no other cause worthy of the sacrifices he was to make – and he made some big ones.

Part of the inscription on his tombstone reads,  “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord...that they may rest from their labors and their works shall follow them.”

Robert Morrison’s works followed him – 180 million people in China are following him to heaven. It all began with him going to China as an act of devotion to Jesus.

Suppose it was your tombstone in that cemetery in Macau. How would you want it to be inscribed?

I have often pictured myself watching my own funeral service, wondering what I would like people to say about me after I am gone. Sometimes I even write my own epitaph. This is not morbid preoccupation with myself, as strange as it sounds, but rather a way to stay focused on what is most important to live for while I’m still here. It is my way of finding focus in the midst of many competing passions.

We were created to live for something greater than ourselves, and only in Jesus will we find that “something.”  Only by focusing on Jesus will our works follow us to heaven.

Take time now... choose a few phrases you want spoken about you when your family and friends gather to celebrate your life.  Write them down. Reflect on them. Now, with this fresh focus, go back into the race of life and give your heart to that which you want to follow you when you die.

Contentment Does Not Mean Happiness


A friend of mine is going through a hard time. She asked if I had any thoughts to share about it got me thinking. The Bible exhorts us to be content in whatever situation we're in. (Philippians 4:11) I asked myself what that meant for me right I "content" with cancer? Can we as believers be content about something so awful? I realized I can be content without being happy about the cancer!! Contentment has to do with peace. I have felt completely surrounded with peace from the Lord in these months that I've been battling cancer......right from the first moment the doctor told me I had a large tumor. The Bible talks about the peace "that passes understanding" that can only come from God. It's not a human emotion, feeling,'s a gift and blessing from Him. I know no one could be happy about having cancer, but I'm at peace. I am content but praying for healing. Contentment is a spiritual weapon right up there with faith.

The pain, injustices, and hardships of life are only for a little while. Perfect health, fairness, and lack of difficulties will be ours to enjoy in heaven forever. God has my times and seasons on this earth in His control. Contentment in my situation is a spiritual weapon against the enemy and any of his plans. I'm not happy I have cancer, but, thanks to God's help, I think I am content in Christ. I'm grateful for that. It's definitely a gift from Him.

Helping People Respond to a Fallen Leader

It is shattering for people to put their trust in a leader and then discover that leader has betrayed their trust. When a leader sins, not only is their life and the lives of their family devastated, but the lives of those who follow them are also deeply impacted. Below are a few things to keep in mind when helping a church or ministry to recover after the fall of their leader.

• It is important for people to forgive as often as they think about the leader. Lead them in praying for this person. Encourage them to speak out their forgiveness. Speak it out in prayer. Gently guide them so that cynicism and mistrust may not be allowed to find a hiding place in their hearts. Remember, they have been sinned against. They need time to work through the emotions of what has happened to them.

• Help people to recognize the difference between forgiveness and restoration. Even if the leader has repented, there is a necessary season of restoration for them to go through. The greater the sin the longer the period of restoration will be. The character weakness that led to the sin needs to be repaired and made right. If the sin was hidden over a long period of time and was not voluntarily disclosed, the greater the consequences.

• God is more jealous and concerned about the fallen leader’s character than anything that he/she has done for the Kingdom. God will sacrifice a person’s public ministry to regain right relationship with them.

• God will allow His own reputation to be hurt for the sake of bringing a leader to repentance. God will endure being mocked from outsiders in order to bring loving correction to our lives. How does He do that? He will expose a leaders sin publicly if that’s what it takes in order to restore them.

• "Anointing", "fruit" or effectiveness in ministry does not equal God's stamp of approval on any man or woman. God has allowed many a leader to experience His blessing while striving at the same time to bring the person to a place of repentance. Why does God allow that to happen? Because of His mercy. Because biblical truth will bear fruit even when the one speaking the truth may be living in sin. Eventually, a man’s sins will find him out and he will reap what he has sown.

• There are many ways people grieve the loss of a leader. When a leader falls, people go through the normal stages of grief: denial (shock), anger, bargaining, blame and acceptance of what happened. Each stage of grief is valid and we need to make room for people to grieve in their own way while helping them through the process.

• Followers are not responsible for their leader’s sin. Some people will blame themselves. Guide them away from that response. Their responsibility is their reaction to their leader’s sin. It may take some time for them to come to a place of Godly forgiveness and then acceptance that the church may need to move on without their former leader.

• Allow the church family to be a safe place for people to express their emotions, including anger, forgiveness, blame, etc. Some people may react for a period of time by closing down their hearts completely, or just giving lip service to the right action. Guide people to a place of forgiveness and healing and then on to restoration of the church. Counsel them about the importance of choosing to fear God so they can see how sin impacts God’s heart most of all.

• Establish a restoration team for the fallen leader. Give them clear guidelines as to how the restoration should take place and to whom they are accountable. Decide if the leader should be restored to their role within the church or to go elsewhere for restoration.

• Provide regular pastoral oversight and care for the church in the weeks and months after events have taken place. The church also needs a “restoration team” of godly leaders. Sometimes it is beneficial to have people from outside the congregation, help them to a place of complete restoration.

Catalyzing a Movement of Leaders

The best leaders are the ones that reproduce themselves. They don’t just have a succession plan, they create an atmosphere of multiplication many times over. These are the leaders that make themselves dispensable. The men and women who function out of a deep level of personal security. They strive not only to do a great job themselves, but they love to see others excel as well.

Because they enjoy seeing others succeed people want to be around them. This type of leader selflessly helps others acquire skills needed for the work, thus freeing themselves to move on to other projects.

Over the years, I have worked hard at being a leader who catalyzes a movement of leaders. Along the way though, I have hit some personal roadblocks to being that type of leader. In that process I have identified seven qualities that I believe are essential to being that 'multiplication' leader.

Here they are… easy to write about but it has taken a lifetime to live them out:

  1. Identify your identity. Decide, do you want to be the “main man,” or do you want to be the one who raises up and empowers others? How you see yourself is what you will reproduce.
  1. Start with the end in sight. Is the main goal just getting the job done, or is it reproducing more leaders, who can also get the job done, in the process? The end goal will determine the path you take to achieve it.
  1. Decide if you want a big movement or a big meeting. In the church world it’s a choice between big meetings or a big movement. In the corporate world you need to decide, will you build vertical or horizontal? If your dream is to build a big corporation (church, organization, company) the drive to accomplish your dream will send a message to other leaders that they must “fit-in” or move on.
  1. Lead by not leading. Multiplication leaders figure out how to lead from behind. They are willing to take the risk of letting go of the reins in order to empower others. They can live with and function in chaos and uncertainty in order to create momentum.
  1. Dream big but build small. A movement that attracts lots of leaders needs a big dream. Visionary leaders are not attracted to small vision. How you build the big vision needs to be in small increments… small groups, small endeavors, small obedience’s. Some of those “small” things you build will grow and even out-strip what you do… that is a compliment to you!
  1. Look for opportunities for others, not yourself. Leaders of leaders are not focused on themselves, but on others. They are constantly on the lookout for potential leaders. They see beyond weakness to potential. They are positive by nature. They are optimists about people.
  1. Invest in people not buildings. We need buildings to get the job done but every far reaching movement must decide which takes priority:  people or property?






The Five Leadership Functions of Jesus

In their outstanding book, The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes & Barry Posner build their case that leaders are made, more than born. They describe five functions ordinary people use when they bring forth their best efforts in challenging circumstances. I have adapted the five essential functions presented in their book to show how Jesus first modeled them. The source of all great, enduring leadership practices is always God himself. In this case, Jesus models these practices in His last days and nights with the disciples before His crucifixion, as recorded in John 13-17.

  • Jesus Encouraged the Heart 

Jesus connected directly to the soul of His closest followers. He discerned their fear, their bewilderment, and their unspoken questions. They knew something big was up, but they weren’t sure what it was, so He said: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me...I go to prepare a place for you...I will come again to receive you to myself, that where I am, you may be also...” (John 14:1-3).

Jesus encouraged His disciples to do extraordinary things by speaking to their felt need, to what was happening below the surface, at the heart level. He demonstrated that the way to reach people’s wills and minds is through their hearts.

Jesus knew the task He gave His disciples to go, teach, baptize and make disciples would not be accomplished if their hearts were overcome with discouragement. He saw the need to keep hope and determination alive in them. He encouraged them by speaking hope to their hearts, not presenting facts to their minds. He reassured them. He listened to them. He recognized the contributions they had already made and affirmed them for it.

The twelve apostles were men who had already left their families for Jesus. They risked everything for their faith in Him. He did what great leaders do; He celebrated their dedication and sacrifice. Others had left Him, but not these men. He knew Judas would betray Him and Peter would deny Him, but as discouraging as that could be, Jesus still reached out to His disciples with words of comfort and assurance.

Jesus’ words “Let not your hearts be troubled…” have given hope and comfort to multiple generations of disciples the world over since that night when He first spoke them. This is inspirational leadership at its best! Jesus openly disclosed what was before the disciples (14:29-30), yet motivated them onward with a vision for the future.

  • Jesus Inspired a Shared Vision 

Jesus told His disciples He was leaving and going to the Father, but He promised a heaven-sent mentor was coming to help them. He enabled His disciples to see the future possibilities He had in store for them (John 14:1-3, 23-24).

The function of inspirational leadership is to inspire hope. Jesus declared with great passion how His disciples could make a difference after He departed. He envisioned the future for them, creating a unique image of what the future was to become. He told them they would do even greater works than the great works that He had done.

Through His strong appeal and quiet persuasion, He enlisted His disciples in the dream He had for them, and then commissioned them to do the same for others (14:31).

  • Jesus Challenged the Status Quo

Jesus declared to His disciples that He is the way to the Father (14:7-14). Jesus built on the truth embedded in the faith covenant made with Abraham, but avoided the man made structures built around the covenant. He pointed to Himself as the revelation of the Father (14:7-11), and in so doing, He undercut the priestly system that had disempowered the Jewish people from direct access to the Father.

Jesus searched for opportunities to challenge and change the status quo. The Jewish faith-system had become a weight on the shoulders of the people. He didn’t just innovate within the existing way of doing things; He replaced it with something new and fresh. He took enormous risks. Since risk taking involves the potential for mistakes and failure, Jesus gave his disciples freedom to learn from their mistakes.

  • Jesus Empowered Others to Act 

He fostered collaboration among His disciples by sending them out in twos and threes, working as a spiritual family. He knew He was building them together, not just as individuals. Jesus was building them into His people. The carriers of His ongoing presence on earth. His church! In doing so, He gave them authority and power to act. He delegated to them the mission the Father had given to him.

Jesus actively involved the disciples as the founders of His church - and made it clear that they should disciple many others also. He didn’t want to build an exclusive sect but a worldwide movement of people from every tribe and tongue. Jesus came to start a movement that was inclusive to the poor, to women, to the young, and to the marginalized and the broken.

Jesus understood that mutual respect between His followers is what would sustain His extraordinary efforts through them, so He taught them about the value of love, forgiveness and unconditional acceptance.

Jesus modeled for His disciples how to create an atmosphere of trust and dignity among people. He confronted competitiveness in His disciples. He taught them to love each other as He loved them. He strengthened His disciples by sharing inside information with them – information that empowered them to leave Him if they chose to do so. Jesus gave His own power away, making each disciple feel capable and powerful. And then told them that this is how they are to lead the movement He began, “in the same way the father sent me, I am sending you...” (John 20:21-23).

  • Jesus Modeled the Way to Lead Others

Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus gave power away (14:16-21).  He was not concerned with status but with serving. He promised Holy Spirit was coming to them so they would do even greater works than He had done. Jesus broke the poverty of spirit that hierarchy produces in people by giving His disciples a vision for a movement where every person has a valuable role and contribution. Jesus modeled that every person in His movement was a priest, not just an elite few.

This fostered collaboration among the disciples and provided an alternative to the Pharisees model of rigidly tiered leadership. It built spiritual competencies in them: they could talk directly to God, they could hear His voice, they could ask for help, they could pray for the sick, they could seek for the people of peace and announce the kingdom had come. They could cast out demons and heal the sick. They could disciple and send others. They could build spiritual families that multiplied and grew among theirs as well as other cultures and peoples.

Jesus created standards of holiness by setting a personal example for His disciples. He imparted kingdom values about how people should be treated, co-workers should be respected, and broken people should be respected.

Jesus encouraged “small obedience’s” not just spectacular acts because He knew that was the way to enlist many ordinary people in His movement, and it was the best way to spread the good news and build commitment. Jesus set the example each day by behaving in ways that were consistent with the values He taught the disciples.

Summary and Application

Take a few minutes to review the five leadership strengths of Jesus:

  1. Encourage people’s hearts
  2. Inspire people with shared vision
  3. Challenge the status quo
  4. Empower others to act
  5. Model how you want others to live

Take time to evaluate your leadership in light of the five Jesus-style functions of leadership. Perhaps you want to grade yourself from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score, in each of the five functions.

Now, ask your spouse and then your fellow leaders to do the same for each other. Talk about these five functions of leadership in your team, church, department or ministry. As a follow up, develop a plan to build on your strengths while giving special attention to improving your weaknesses.

This assessment will give you a practical set of leadership goals to work on. Invite Holy Spirit to lead you in the process, encouraging, challenging, enabling, modeling and inspiring you each step of the journey!


A Thoughtful Christ-Centered Response to ISIS

NOTE FROM FLOYD: This article by friend Carl Medearis is from his website and used by permission. Though it was posted a little while ago, it is very relevant today. by CARL MEDEARIS

Obama admits to not having a strategy. Duck Dynasty Godfather, Phil Robertson, wants to “Convert ‘em or kill ‘em.”

So what is a thoughtful honest strategy for confronting a terrorist group like ISIS?

ISIS doesn’t need any more explanation. We know what it is – evil personified. They have morphed out of Al Qaeda who were ironically too liberal for their most radical Islamic interpretations, namely that there should be a new national Muslim identity – a Caliphate. They have chosen Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant) as the territory from which this new “state” will emerge.

ISIS has brutally killed 1000’s, mostly non-Sunnis, in this quest for power. Ethnic Christians and a small people-group called Yazidis have found themselves in evil’s path, but so have the armies of Syria (both the national army and the various rebel groups), Iraq and even Lebanon. It seems anyone who isn’t willing to lay down their “flag” and join the newly self-appointed ISIS Caliphate is deemed a traitor and deserves to die. The execution of two American hostages by beheading has horrified the West and captured our daily imaginations – mostly how we can “demoralize and destroy” to use our President’s words, this new evil encroaching on our freedoms and international interests.

But I’m not a politician, I’m a private citizen and a follower of Jesus. But I’ve spent 32 years in the Middle East. I speak Arabic. I’ve been many times to Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and around the Middle East. I’ve met personally with the leaders of Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Bin Laden family. And the politics of this are complicated to be sure. To bomb or not to bomb? Boots on the ground? It would seem that any attempt at a real diplomatic solution would be ridiculous with such a group.

Then what should the attitude be of folowers of Jesus in the West? How should we talk about ISIS amongst ourselves and if we had the chance to speak to one of our Congressional representatives, what might we encourage them to do? As “people of the book” (the name Muslims give to Christ-followers), what is our posture?

Unlike President Obama or the Duck guy, Jesus had a strategy. Believe it or not, he was smart. He lived under an occupying force and dealt with zealots (men who would have been considered “terrorists”) and lest we forget – he was killed. So Jesus knew pain, suffering, persecution and terrorism first hand.

And he had a strategy for dealing with such enemies. Here are five:

1. “Take the log out of our eyes, before we help get the speck out of someone else’s eye.” Are there logs in the eyes of the West, America specifically, that we need to first recognize? Where did ISIS get its weapons, for instance? And are there logs in the eyes of those of us who claim the way of Jesus as the way for the whole world? If the church had done its job of sharing Jesus in the Arab world in years past, would we have this issue? If the boys who are now men in ISIS, ten years ago, had heard and received the good news of Jesus – would they be doing what they are now?

2. “Blessed are the eyes that see and the ears that hear.” We need to see, hear and understand – it’s the parable of the Sower. There are reasons ISIS exists. We may not like them, and we might not want to understand them, but a mature and wise person will seek to know. Ask the question “Why?” Why is there an ISIS? If you were in their shoes would you be tempted to do something similar? If you grew up in a country with no power at your disposal, no outlet for travel, economic opportunity or education – and someone handed you a gun and said “We can take what should have been ours anyway” would you be tempted? It’s easy to say “No.” But….Are you sure?

3. “The harvest is ripe.” Who has attempted to bring them good news? Saul was a terrorist before he became Paul – killing Christians just like ISIS is doing. There’s always hope. The good news is the Power of God for salvation. Do we believe that? Who’s willing to go? Now.

4. “Turn the other cheek, carry the pack an extra mile and give them the coat off your back.” Jesus was rooted in Middle Eastern culture. He understood the power of shame and employs it brilliantly in these three simple strategies in these words from Matthew chapter 5 – the Sermon on the Mount. Each are used by Jesus to show that the one who is being abused can take power back from the abuser by taking charge of the situation. “Turning the cheek” wasn’t being passive – but a way to force the man who struck first to think about what he was doing before striking again. Forcing a civilian to carry a pack an “extra mile” was actually illegal – so the Roman soldier would be in big trouble for his superiors if someone saw what was happening. Taking of your “outer cloak” and showing your nakedness would have been a huge shame on the one who saw – not the one who took it off – but the one who saw. Shaming is Jesus’ clever way of granting power to the powerless.

What if we spent a billion dollars on creative ways of shaming ISIS – what might we come up with?

5. “Love your enemy, bless them and loan without expecting return.” Develop a long-term strategy for confronting evil. These injunctions of Christ – to love, bless and give to our enemies – are long- term strategies. They may not work right now within the current situation, but we have to be asking about the next generation. Who are the kids playing soccer in the dirty streets of Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan who could become successful businessmen and women, OR the next ISIS? We never heard of ISIS just one year ago. We didn’t know about Al Qaeda before 9/11. Who is the next ___________? And how do we move beyond our short-sighted 4-year-at-a-time policies to a more enlightened policy of generations? To love, bless and give to your enemy speaks of development and opportunity. Are we taking economic and educational reform seriously enough in countries like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan? If not, why not?

Of course, there is a legitimate argument to be made, that when people such as those within ISIS submit themselves fully to evil, war is our last option. Christians and those committed to the ways of Jesus have argued that position through the lens of “Just War Theory” since the days of St. Augustine. However, I believe we are too quick to employ that as a strategy when Jesus gave us some clear methods for confronting our enemies. His way is not passive. The way of the cross is perhaps the most aggressive stance towards evil ever taken. The love that God offers the world, in Christ, is not wimpy – it is a robust affront to the systems of our day that cry out for blood and revenge. The way of Jesus is the hard way. Forgiveness, love, choosing to lay down our lives is the most difficult path in the face of real enemies. Evil is real. But love is far more powerful.

Ironically the Phil Robertson’s of the world use the exact same language as ISIS – “convert or die.” There is another Way!

Paul summarized this way of Jesus well when he said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” ISIS is evil, but they can ultimately be overcome by good.

Carl Medearis is an international expert on Muslims/Christian relations and Arab/American relations. You can learn more about him on his website:

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The Art of Conversation

“A conversation, even a brief one, should have all the best features of any functioning human relationship, and that means genuine interest on both sides, opportunity and respect for both to express themselves, and some dashes of tact and perception.  Conversation can be such pleasure that it is criminal to exchange comments so stale that neither really listens”   Barbara Walters  (

Great conversationalists listen more than they speak, but when they do speak, they express genuine interest in the other person.  At the heart of good conversation is the ‘value’ of others.

From the site I quote Barbara Walters again as she debunks a common myth about the key to great conversation:

“I happen to disagree with the well-entrenched theory that the art of conversation is merely the art of being a good listener.  Such advice invites people to be cynical with one another and full of fake; when a conversation becomes a monologue, poked along with tiny cattle-prod questions, it isn’t a conversation any more.  It is a strained, manipulative game, tiring and perhaps even lonely.  Maybe the person doing the talking enjoys himself at the time, but I suspect he’ll have uncomfortable afterthoughts about it; certainly his audience has had a cheerless time.”

To be an artful conversationalist, one must learn to…

  • put themselves and others at ease
  • establish common interests
  • involve everyone in the conversation
  • be genuinely interested in others - even the ‘bore’
  • adopt an attitude of ‘learner’

Being adept at introductions is a key to starting a good conversation.  Awkward introductions often lead to awkward conversations.  There are three ingredients to a good introduction:

  1. When saying who the person is use their name and title, including Dr., Rev., Prof., or simply Mr., Mrs., or Ms.
  2. Address the person with greatest honor, rank or age first, e.g., ”Prof. and Mrs. Brown, I would like to introduce to you Ms. Jones…”  In our very informal Western cultures many young adults have never learned the courtesy of making a good introduction.
  3. Give a little detail of their relevance, i.e. how you relate to one another or the event

When training younger leaders a few years back, Sally and I taught how to make an introduction and we practiced until everyone was at ease with this lost art.

Steps to greater depth of conversation:

  • Recognize and acknowledge the value of the other person
  • Introduce a topic of conversation with a short statement of personal belief or opinion
  • Pursue the topic with thoughtful comments followed by a further question
  • Confirm the validity of the other person’s opinion or emotions even if you disagree
  • Share personal feelings or experiences without dominating or being disagreeable
  • Hear what other people are saying versus what they are telling you

Remember:  directness in conversation is the privilege of intimate friendship.  One can be honest while being tactful and sensitive.

To end a conversation politely:

  • Address the person by name and thank them for taking the time to speak with you, or:
  • Ask the person to give your regards to their friend or spouse etc., or:
  • Tell the person you are glad to have been able to hear their perspective and to connect with them.

On a personal note:  While living in Afghanistan many years ago, Sally and I were invited to the home of the American ambassador.  We were out of our depth for sure.  We were the hippy couple trying to act natural with heads of NGO’s, business people, a few CIA types, and an ambassador or two thrown in.  At a certain point, the assistant to the American ambassador made the rounds and politely said, “Thank you for coming this evening.  The ambassador would like to greet you as you go.  He will be by the main door for the next 30 minutes…”  It was time to end the conversations!

One more quote from Barbara Walters from about escaping from tedious conversationalists:

“I’m not in favor of escape as a unilateral policy.  There are painful, tedious people in abundance and some of them must be suffered kindly, maybe even until they run down and have nothing more to say.  Things being what they are in the world today, we are more and more driven to depend on one another’s sympathy and friendship in order to survive emotionally…    Furthermore, warm, sustaining relationships become especially important during those periods when we are our least loveable.  People bursting with good will and abundance of mental health are charming company; their need for ego-boosting, however, is minimal.  People sinking into self-pity and depression are dreary, but they can’t get out of it by themselves.  So every now and then, just sit there and listen, listen, listen.  You’re paying your membership dues in the human race.”

The way Walters advocates for listening as an act of sorely needed compassion, especially in those conversations where our impulse may be to flee, is essential in learning to value others no matter their likability.  Her warm wisdom rings all the more urgent, even if more difficult to enact, in our age of online conversation, characterized by a propensity for knee-jerk reaction instead of thoughtful response.

Nothing is quite so rare as a great conversationalist.  Artful conversations don’t take place by accident, and are the result of intentionality, courtesy, humility and regular practice.  Enjoy!



Learning to Love People You Don't Like

I wrote a book by that title.  It sold well.  Better than the earlliest edition of the book, titled, 'Father, Make Us One'.  I think people appreciate the 'realness' of the new title. It's hard to love some people.  If you're like me, I enjoy some people, patiently endure others, and actively seek to avoid a few.  That's brutally honest, but needs to be said if you're going to believe anything I write on this topic.

Love...real not all about squishy, warm feelings of affection and devotion.  Love is hard.  At least, Jesus found it that way.

Jesus had a lot of disciples, and he chose to spend more time with some than others.

Jesus has to be our source of guidance when it comes to loving those we do church and life with.  I think we fear turning to Jesus’ words and example because deep down we know He is going to tell us to get over ourselves,  forgive and give everything up for people we hate being around.

But that is not the case.  Jesus also endured some of his disciples and avoided others.  Quite a few of his team members left him.  He confronted some of them, and a few, a small handful, became really close friends.

So how do we deal with loving people we don’t like?  Here are a few guidelines that have served me well over the years, hard learned guidelines, I might add:

1. Be honest with yourself and with God.  Spirituality is not genuine if it is not honest.  God loves truth in our inner selves.  Truth is not just who God is, a statement of doctrine, but also how we approach God.

So, if you are struggling to love or like someone, put words on that feeling to the Lord.  If they irritate you, tell God.  If they hurt you, express that to Him.  If they are offensive, say so to Him.  Tell God how you feel about that person...share with Him the deep truth of your heart.  He can handle it and you won't grow unless you're honest.

Tell him your struggles, then take the next step in the journey of healthy Jesus style love...

2.  ...ask God to let you see people with His eyes.  To see them as He sees them.  Seriously, this is not a spiritual cop-out.  If you want to mature in your love for people, you need to develop breadth in your love of people.

Get a bigger heart.  Ask God to help you grow greater breadth, greater capacity for loving people who are different to you.  If you want a greater influence on people for the kingdom of God, you need to grow in your appreciation of different kinds of people.

That doesn’t mean you are going to fall head over heals in love with every person you work with, but it does mean that you are going to learn to view them with respect and appreciation.  To have a greater awareness of their upbringing, their culture, their unique personality (given to them by God, by the way), and their special contribution to God's kingdom.

3.  Give yourself freedom to enjoy some friendships while you tolerate others.  You won't connect deeply with everyone.  You need some close friendships in your life if you are to survive and thrive as a leader.

4.  Lastly, work hard on overcoming pain and disappointment.  One of the greatest hindrances to loving the people we work with in a healthy way, is unresolved pain in our relationships.  If your reservoir of pain is getting bigger and bigger with time, the dam will eventually burst and anger, resentment, avoidance and all manner of negative emotions will flow out.

God teaches us to love by allowing, and sometimes even causing, us to be with people who offend or annoy us.  Don’t bury your irritation or pain with these people.  Don’t ignore your disappointments with them.  Deal with your pain daily with God.  Keep short accounts.  Pray for compassion.  Forgive them when they hurt you.  Keep on forgiving every time you think of them, until God releases His love in your heart for them.

Love is multi-faceted.  Set your sights on learning to love people you don't like.  Meanwhile, enjoy the ones you do! * To explore this topic further, you can order a copy of my book, 'Learning to Love People You Don’t Like' from our office in South Africa at 021-785-7201 or or you can order it from Amazon in other countries.

Update After Round Four


Dear Faithful Intercessors and Friends, When I went in last week for chemo, they said my blood work showed my numbers were too low to do the treatment. They wanted to do the blood work again that morning. I sat waiting for a couple hours and finally "passed." My neutrophils were a bit below minimum, my white cells just they let me have the treatment. The chemo has been moving along successfully, so I was hoping not to break the rhythm!

I also got some good news from the doctor! I had done a CT scan the day before. It showed a slight improvement in the right kidney we've been praying for that wasn't functioning because the large tumor had blocked it. That is encouraging news! Please keep praying for a full miracle of restoration.

I've been through hard times physically before. I can even say now that I'm grateful for them because walking through them has given me "tools" for dealing with this hard time. But I have to say that cancer is a different a league of its own! It affects every part of the body. It impacts the mind and emotions. It touches on the heart - the spiritual realm because it's dealing with life and death. It impacts relationships - some people have a hard time dealing with it themselves so they don't know how to relate to me. It is so all consuming!

Because of the impact on every part of my life, I've sometimes felt like I'm broken into lots of pieces......and I'm just trying to keep it all together. A friend sent me the photo and definition that I've attached to this update. Kintsukuroi pottery......more beautiful and very costly for having been broken and repaired with gold or silver. As I pondered and prayed over this photo my friend sent, I heard the sweet voice of the Lord saying I would come out of this season more beautiful than before. In fact, that's what God wants to do in all our lives when we go through the difficult seasons. The hard time is not the end! God is using the difficulty to make us more like Him with His gold repair work in our lives. The piece of pottery is beautiful....more so for the gold worked into it!!

As you know, Floyd is away for 10 days. I was quite concerned about how I'd do without him. I have become so dependent on him. We're half way thru his time away. His trip has been good - we'll share news when he returns.

One day while Floyd's been away I was thanking the Lord for the sweetness of His presence. I felt I could almost touch Him - He felt so close. In that moment, I realized that "aloneness" is an illusion that the enemy tries to burden us with. I can't see the Lord, but I'm not alone. He is so with me!!! And because of Him, every moment of my life is good and meaningful.....even these chemo ones that I don't like.

AND - I've done well this round while Floyd has been away. :) Your prayers have been carrying me.....and have been answered. Thank you!

With our love & gratitude, Sally & Floyd


Why Some Leaders Fail to Get Things Done

When leaders fail to get the ‘main thing’ done it is because of one simple, fatal shortcoming: failure to perform. It is not a lack of vision, or shortage of brainpower. It is the inability to act decisively when decisive action is called for. When asked why Microsoft rose to the top amongst so many competing computer companies, some of which had better products, Bill Gates said: “Immediate and massive action.”

It’s as simple as that: not getting things done, being indecisive… not delivering on the goods. Failure as a leader is never final, and sometimes it can be influenced by flawed strategy, refusal to confront reality in their area of responsibility, etc. etc. but the greatest cause of leadership failure is failure to execute the ‘main thing’. Good leaders learn to focus on one thing… the main thing.

In a local church or missional community the same principle applies. Churches that stagnate do so because of a lack of passionate, focused vision from their senior leader. This ‘vision void’… not focusing on the main thing, results in a lack of motivation in people to ‘make it happen’.

Why do Leaders Fail to Get Things Done?

Why do leaders fail to execute? There are many obvious reasons, including personality, gift-mix and experience. But there seems to be a pattern in recent firings in the business community that shed light on why leaders fail to perform. Church leaders would do well to learn from their secular counterparts.

Failure to put the right people in the right jobs. Leaders who don’t deal with people-problems quickly allow those few subordinates with sustained poor performance to deeply harm their endeavor. Most leaders usually know when there is a problem; their inner voice tells them to act, but they suppress it.

This tendency in some leaders to suppress their inner voice can be due to a lack of emotional strength. Emotional strength to seek information and input from multiple sources, to deal with conflict, to resist denial and take the necessary steps to deal with the problem in time.

Leaders lacking in emotional strength often justify their failure to deal with problem people by making excuses…

“He has to succeed.” Such a leader may be the victim of mental or emotional seduction. Convinced that his ‘hand picked’ subordinate will succeed regardless. If the protégé fails, and this leader cannot bring himself to face the failure, he is in big trouble.

“He’s my guy!” This is a problem of blind loyalty. Maybe they have worked together for a long time or there is a deep bond of relationship. In this case, a subordinate who is failing to grow, or lacking the skills necessary to get the job done, will continue on without consequence as his leader, ‘blinded’ by loyalty, fails to act.

“I can coach him.” If the subordinate is not a quick learner, then the organization or ministry will downgrade to the skill and management level of the person in charge.

“The people like him – he must be okay.” Some subordinates forge links with others so as to build a power base for their continued service. Others build connections with the board, or donors. However, poor performance is poor performance, and no matter how nice or well liked, if this person is not removed, they will hinder the organizations ability to fulfill its mission.

“There is a lot of transition going on, and many people have left already, people won’t like it if he leaves.” If the subordinate is failing, delaying taking action just makes the problem worse. Transition is probably the best time to make changes. Rather get it done while things are up in the air, instead of waiting for things to settle only to disrupt them again.

“He’s in the job, and I will take the devil I know over the devil I don’t know.” Such a leader may be insecure over his ability to hire the right person, especially if it is someone from outside the organization. There may be a fear that the new person will not fit into the culture and values of the group.

A leader does not need to be ruthless to get things done. Successful leaders have an inner value that drives them: ‘people first…strategy second’. This points to the need for a leader to make sure they have top caliber, committed, hard working people on their team, who will follow their example to focus on the ‘main thing’

The excuses of those leaders who fail to execute are often unconscious but in actuality they are mechanisms for conflict avoidance, and they prolong the inevitable.

Below are some significant hindrances to getting things done:

  1. Commitment to a favorite organizational model.
  2. Consensus decision-making.
  3. Losing sight of the main thing and making the process the end goal.
  4. Cliques.
  5. Changing vision often, the “flavor of the month” version of leadership.
  6. Failure to do whatever has to be done to achieve results. Failed leaders ask, “Why can’t people do it themselves?” or “Why can’t people solve problems without my help?”
  7. Denial. Leaders who fail to execute avoid facing the realities of their situation. They quickly end up becoming prisoners of one or two friends, listening to the ‘Pollyanna’ reports they love to hear. Some just can’t take responsibility for failure, so they blame others or circumstances for lack of results. They may have gotten used to winning for so long, all the way back to high school sports or college politics, that they can’t face the reality that they have to change things immediately if they are to be successful. Typically, they can’t believe that when something is going wrong, it is their fault.

The best thing that could happen to some of these leaders is a good, straight talk. But who is going to do them such a favor? Subordinates tend to keep their senior leader happy by feeding their ego. These leaders need to be taken to the woodshed. Deep down, they may even want it, but they are afraid to reveal their deep insecurities. Some of these poor leaders sit in a cocoon of isolation at the pinnacle of their career. They can’t see the seeds of destruction slowly growing under the surface.

Danger: there is a fine line between denial and optimism. A senior leader has the twin responsibility of being a cheerleader and the one to call the hard shots. A great leader acknowledges the negatives while providing hope and confidence. Warren Buffet warns, “The senior leader who misleads others in public eventually misleads himself in private.” It is called deception. Leaders who can’t face reality, don’t want to.

Deniers tend to be inveterate optimists, seduced by past glory and living in the hope of future success.

Leaders who fail to perform are typically the kind of people who serve on too many boards, attend too many meetings, travel too much, and have too many irons in the fire. They see themselves as ambassadors for their movement. They are dabblers, unfocused. Whatever the cause, indecisiveness takes over, and they fail to lead effectively.

Effective leaders use decision-making processes to drive results, not delay them. They start by focusing on initiatives that are clear, specific and few, and they don’t launch a new one until those in process are embedded in the DNA.

Effective Leaders are implementers through a process that seems simple, even obvious, but has profound effects. They note at the end of meetings who is to do what, by when. This type of leader goes over action steps with everyone before the meeting closes, and they probably send each one a reminder afterward.

It is fascinating to watch what happens when a leader who executes well brings these habits into a company where they didn’t exist before. The whole tone changes. People prepare for meetings differently. They interact differently. They stay focused. Commitments are highly valued. Great leaders hold people accountable, always.

Keeping track of critical assignments, following up, evaluating performance – isn’t that kind of, well, boring? It may well be. It’s a grind. At least, plenty of intelligent, never-the-less failed, leaders say so. And in a way you can’t blame them. It is hard work to lead well. It takes discipline, faithfulness, and follow through.

The problem with leaders who fail to execute is not a lack of brains or ability nor a lack of clear goals or strategy. It is the failure to make things happen. The problem with these leaders is drive. They find no reward in getting the job done, or finishing well. They find no incentive in continually improving how things are done. Failed Leaders ask, “Why don’t people follow through on things I ask them?” They’re afraid of appearing too controlling, of “micro-managing.”

Great leaders succeed because they have a desire to compete - all the time. They have a willingness to confront. They get a charge out of pushing a thing to completion, of improving and then improving some more. They love to set up systems and get the right people to run them. That is why they are so hungry for information, for reports from the battlefield. Effective leaders have a strong external focus and get stimulated by details of what’s happening in their area of responsibility. The details others find boring. They are haunted by the very real possibility that the boss is the last to know. To prevent this from happening, they ask hard questions. They pull in loads of data.

Great leaders know that having the right strategy is important, but it is only half the battle. Someone has to make it happen, and stick with it to improve it and make it work, day-in and day-out. That responsibility cannot be delegated to a second in command or an executive pastor or CEO.

Profile of a Leader Who Gets Things Done

  • Decisiveness: the senior leader faces conflict, pressure, internal dissent and fear of rejection with equanimity. They do what has to be done to get the job done and get it done right. They know the main thing and will not be deterred from seeing it accomplished.
  • Character: integrity, maturity, and spiritual energy. Self-confidence is essential.
  • People skills: judging, building teams, growing and coaching people, firing where necessary.
  • Business acumen: instinctive feel for how a company makes money, and a corresponding understanding of how to make that happen.
  • Organizational ability: engender trust, share information, listen expertly, diagnose problems and know how to bring about full potential; they deliver on commitments, are decisive, attract good staff and set up effective systems.
  • Insatiable curiosity: intellectual capacity, global mindset, externally oriented, adept at connecting developments and spotting patterns. They read and ask questions, lots of them.
  • Superior judgment: good observation skills, discerning, listening, good counselors, they have a foundation of moral principles and convictions to build on.
  • Hungry for growth and accomplishment: result oriented, focused, faithful, follow through, willing to say no. They are ambitious in the best meaning of the word.
  • Learners: motivated to improve, to learn from mistakes, gatherers of information, inspired to know and convert what they learn into practice.
  • Vision: they see the outcome and work toward it with tremendous focus and energy. Outcome oriented.
  • Knowing the main thing. Leaders have one primary responsibility, and that is to see to it that the main thing is always the main thing. They know that in the end, winning popularity contests won’t produce results. So they get the job done.

In the Christian arena, these leaders usually don’t have a great number of 'hang-out' friends, but they respect people and treat them well. They are focused, they live with a driving ambition to fulfill their calling. They want to finish the race and win the prize.











Ten Keys for Casting a Compelling Vision


  1. Make sure it is clear in your own mind.    What is the vision that burns in your heart in 25 words or less. If you need hundreds of words to summarize it, it's not compelling.
  2. What did God say?    Share the story of your spiritual journey and the amazing “co-incidences” that convince you that the vision is from God, how it gripped your heart, that it's something you are willing to give your life to.
  3. Share it with change agents first.    Win key decision makers over, before you go public. Follow the appropriate process and protocol to have the vision approved. Meet with them one-on-one and inspire them with the vision that grips your heart.
  4. Paint a compelling picture.    Stir the hearts and minds of people to mobilize them to work together to bring about the vision. Vision precedes reality. Visionaries stir people to action by creating a picture in their minds of what can happen. Share the opportunities more than the needs. Build with inspiration, not shame or guilt. Inspire people with what will happen when the vision is accomplished. If you want to build a ship, describe the ocean you will sail on more than the wood you will build with!
  5. Share your vision consistently.    Changing from one vision to another creates confusion and lack of credibility where trust is quickly lost. Stick to your vision and share it everywhere and with everyone!
  6. Proclaim the vision as widely as possible.    The vision should be given visibility. Cast it from the platform, in newsletters, via video, on audio tape. Use slogans, banners and brochures. Drive it home to your staff, board, friends, family, leaders, and supporters.
  7. Share your vision over and over again.    Sharing vision takes time, effort and sacrifice. It requires planning and effort, with continuity and repetition. It must gain trust through consistency and perseverance. It must be perceived as more than a pipe dream. It takes ruthless determination, unswerving dedication, relentless tenacity, and honest evaluation. Repeat the vision every time you meet. Never presume that people remember why they are working so hard and meeting so much.
  8. Connect from the heart.    Share from your heart what motivates you. Be personal. Let people know how you feel about the vision, and their part in it. Find out what motivates them, and what they dream about. Find out what makes them tick, their concerns, their fears. Express your need for them – and tell them why.
  9. Tell your vision passionately.    If you are not excited and committed, will others be? Share the stories of how people are buying in to the vision and how they are making it happen in their lives. Story, story, story!
  10. Build a team that owns the vision.    Share ownership with others. Speak of “our” vision and what “we” are doing. Delegate important responsibilities to key people, but make sure they understand the values the vision is built on. Ask their input, listen to their criticism, start where they are, evaluate frequently and go together toward the goal. Have ideals but avoid idealism. Start where people are at. Encourage their hearts and listen to them in order to work a 'fit' that gives them a share in what is being built.






Four Questions to Ask When Dealing With Disappointment

A young man, whom I respect, recently asked me for some insight on dealing with a situation that brought him much disappointment. He had been journaling and reflecting on his experience but wanted some help in processing it constructively. I encouraged him to ask himself four questions as a way of turning his disappointment into an opportunity for learning and growth. These questions are also helpful in processing the pain we experience in disappointment…

  1.  “What was life giving about the situation?”    Rather than asking in an accusing voice, “Why did You do that to me?” I have learned to ask, “What do You want to teach me through this, God?” To ask myself, “What was God up to? What did I learn? What good came out of it?” It is important to see the hand of God in the choices we make. To know and believe that God is guiding and using every circumstance of our lives to work in us, to shape us, to teach us. I believe these questions can focus us on what God is doing instead of what we want a situation to be.
  2. “What is it I value about what I went through?”    Learn to look ‘behind’ what actually happened. Look deeper to find the principles and values that you learned which could lead you to greater maturity.
  3. “If I had three wishes concerning this situation, what would they be?”    This is where you can evaluate the situation, take what you have learned and see how you would do things differently if it happened again.
  4.  “How do I put into practice what I have learned from this situation?”

A comment about disappointments: they are usually from unmet expectations. We can’t control every situation in life, but we can learn to define our expectations before we enter a situation. Then, if reality is different than what we expected, we can take those expectations to God and ask Him what we should do about them… Sometimes we just need to change our expectations, sometimes we need to surrender to God’s refining work, sometimes we need to realize that we did not research the situation adequately before hand, sometimes we need to simply forgive, and sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above.

There are three classical ways of dealing with disappointment and loss that hinder us instead of help us:

  1. Analyzing our disappointment intellectually. Avoiding the pain we feel prevents us from addressing our disappointment on a heart level.
  2. Blaming others. A “looking for the sin in the camp” approach to problem solving prevents us from learning and growing through a situation. It is usually a subtle way of punishing others for the pain we feel. Obviously, it does not release us to move on with our lives. We carry with us what we do not forgive.
  3. Seeing it as a spiritual matter. The devil may be at work, but he gets a lot more credit than he deserves. It is much more beneficial to discern what God is doing than what Satan is trying to do.

In my studies from the life of King David in the Old Testament, I have observed that his life was filled with disappointments. The Bible records David’s disappointments and his responses to them, honestly. I encourage you to study David’s life from this perspective.

David’s psalms of lament teach us the value of grieving loss in our lives. Grieving is only one aspect of dealing with disappointment, but it is a vital one. We cannot learn and grow if we do not know how to grieve well. Covering up or denying the pain of loss and disappointment does not make it go away. Those feelings remain deep inside us, eating away at us… Until we acknowledge our loss, embrace the sadness it brings, and accept our present circumstance, we cannot move forward emotionally or spiritually.

Worship does not only involve praise, it also means sacrifice. Bringing our sacrifice of sorrow over our loss is a form of worship that is precious to God. When I come to God and acknowledge what has been lost in my life, and present that loss to Him, it is my way of saying “I trust You. I look to You for help. I cannot deal with this disappointment by analyzing it in my mind, I need Your comfort for my soul.”

In the end, responding to God with trust in the face of disappointment is a profound form of worship… our way of bowing - mind, body and soul before Him.

Cancer and Joy - Carried Over the Wall


When I was told that I had an ovarian tumor, a large almost 8 pound one, and then, subsequently, that it was malignant – my first thought was how am I going to get through the surgery and chemo treatment? It seemed like a huge, giant wall in front of me that I had no idea of how to get through or over.

Right at this time, I received an email from a dear friend in Indonesia. She was praying for me and was impressed with a picture in her mind for me. She actually drew it out for me.

The thought that kept coming to me was that Jesus would help me with the “wall” I saw in front of me. My friend’s drawing, and what she shared, was that Jesus was carrying me over a wall in this season. All I needed to do was relax, trust, and let Him carry me.  

That has been a HUGE unexpected joy, maybe more than joy, but certainly it was hope. I don’t have to work, earn, worry, do anything on my own. He is with me…I can let Jesus carry me.

And He is doing that, day by day. When I don’t think I can make it, when I am discouraged, I remember the picture of Him carrying me - and it gives me words to pray, “Lord Jesus, please carry me now.” And He does.

“The beloved of the Lord rests in safety – the beloved rests between his shoulders.” Deut. 33:12

Adventure With God

What makes an adventure an adventure? I got in trouble a few years back while speaking to a church in Canada.  As I introduced my wife, Sally, I said "she doesn’t like adventure, like I do...” The folks in the church had a good laugh at my expense. They knew Sally and the wild lifestyle she has lived for Jesus.

What I intended to say is that Sally is not an outdoors type, doesn’t climb mountains, hunt with a bow, other stuff I like to do. I was doing the thing a husband should never do, I was comparing Sally to me. I made myself the standard. Really dumb!

But adventure? Are you kidding, me? Sally is the epitome of adventure. She left home as young 16 year old from Texas, and journeyed by faith half-way around the world to Samoa. She lived in Afghanistan, where she gave birth to our first child with a mid-wife in Kabul, pioneered in the Red Light District of Amsterdam and shared her home with 35 long-haired drop-outs on two houseboats. See what I mean? I misspoke big time!!

What I should have said is, "what I have learned from Sally is that embracing adventure has nothing to do with personality or disposition". She is a high introvert, neat and tidy in everything.  But, more than her personality and love for order, is her heart to obey God.

So, to try and get this right, let me say what I think of when I think about adventure...

I think there are risks involved... some danger.

Adventure means difficulty... challenge... attempting the impossible... sacrifice.

There is the unknown... Adventure is not adventure if we know all the possibilities and control the outcomes.

Then there is the element of surprise... what if? What could go wrong?

And of course, when I hear the word adventure, I also think of fun, adrenalin, wild animals in Africa, the 'rush' of walking through the bush with hippos on your left and lions or elephants up ahead, tangible danger!

An adventure has drama and tension, like a great movie or a good story... take away the risk, the danger, the 'unknown’ and what you have is predictable, safe and boring... not an adventure at all!

Adventure also means comradeship... friendship. What’s an adventure without some friends to share it with?

An adventure is a mission. We were created for mission therefore we were created for adventure. God’s original plan for us was to join Him on His great mission on earth. That’s where the greatest comradeship exists.

We were made for God adventure. If we take God adventure out of our lives, then we will selfishly turn people or money into our adventure.

The Bible is full of stories of unlikely adventurers with God. I call them 'The Unlikelys'...

• Rehab - woman of disrepute, who helped spies escape capture • Daniel - teenager taken hostage by the ISIS of the day • Joseph – the rejected brother who was trafficked to a foreign land • Abraham – a sheep farmer going where he did not know • John Mark - Paul's rejected team member • John - son of a self-righteous religious extremists • Mary – who pondered a prophetic mystery • Gideon - man of fear • Hosea – who was led by God in the most unusual way

To take adventure out of following Jesus is to rob our life of spice. It removes the emotion from life. God’s invitation to adventure is like a fork in the road. If we say no to God everything in our life changes from that point on.

Think what would have changed if Esther had said no to the invitation from God to rescue her people?

What would have happened if the rich young ruler had said yes to Jesus’ command to sell everything he owned?

My advice? If life has become safe and stable and, let’s face it, boring, it’s time to get some adventure back! Take up the hobby you have always wanted to. Go camping, buy a bike, or take an art class. Do something fun!

And say yes to Jesus. Don’t negotiate. Don’t bargain. Just trust Him and say yes!

See where He leads!!!