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Archive for the ‘ekklesia’ Category

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45; CSB)

I’ve been reading about and thinking of leadership a lot lately. Frankly, all this talk of leadership in the church makes me nervous. I find it interesting that the apostles, especially Paul, did not strut around calling themselves The Rev. Apostle Paul. They preferred to be known as a δοῦλος (“slave / bondservant”) of Christ.

My wife stumbled upon this blog post the other day, and I thought it was spot on. Here are some excerpts:

What I’m learning is that an authentic follower of Jesus, a true leader in the Kingdom of God, isn’t as easy to spot as the people in power want you to believe. What if leadership isn’t about who has the title and the microphone, what if it’s about something more?

If you want to find the greatest leaders in your church, follow this one piece of advice:

Turn around.

  • Stop looking to the stage for the ones screaming FOLLOW ME.
  • Stop watching for the most gregarious personality, the center of attention, the [one] who says exactly what everyone wants to hear.
  • Stop looking for leaders in the way our celebrity culture has trained us to—the most attractive, the most talented, the most charming, with the most Instagram followers—and start looking for the type of leaders God picks.

Turn around.

  • Look for the quiet ones in the back row who aren’t in it for the attention or the accolades.
  • Look for ones who could care less about the perfect rituals or the way things should look.
  • Look for the ones putting themselves in danger’s way, traveling to the places of the world the elite class would never step foot in.
  • Look for the ones who are drawn to the marginalized, the disabled, the untouchables of the world.
  • Look for the ones who make it their mission to exist in the tension of the chaos around us.
  • Look for the ones who are rough around the edges, who’ve survived horrible traumas, and are challenging the status quo.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Matthew 20:25

Leadership—at its purest form—is about humbling yourself before men and before God. It’s choosing to be authentic in the mess and real about the struggles we face. It’s about leading by example long before you tell anyone else how to live their life.

Despite platitudes about how we’re all broken people, most Christians only want those who are professionals, pious and perfect as leaders. These people don’t really know about brokenness: health challenges, depression, divorce, rebellious children, etc. Either that or they prefer keeping their masks on.

Sam Eaton concludes his blog post thus:

Sometimes the greatest act of leadership is simply letting the world see you for who you truly are—scars, tears, bruises, moles, and all— and choosing to serve in whatever way you can.

  • Stop pretending.
  • Stop hiding.
  • Stop showering the power-hungry with admiration and start elevating the servant leaders among us.
  • Stop running from the tension of life’s inevitable pain and just be ourselves before the world and before God.

If you want to find the true leaders in your church, turn around. They’re there, crying in the back row, probably hoping you never notice them.

They are ones that fully grasp what it means to pick up their cross and follow Jesus.

They are the real leaders among us; let’s all be more like them.

Amen brother!

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As I continue to reflect on my church situation, these “equations” come to mind:

Fear + Feelings > Faith + Fidelity

Tradition > Truth

{Reboot | Revitalization} => Resistance

Fear + Tradition + Control – Opportunities = Spectator Christians

Leadership / Competition = Disunity

 

For me personally, the equation I need to solve is:

Gifts + Wait + Discernment + Love = x(time) + y(direction)

Finding x to know God’s timing and y to know where He’s leading me …

 

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Many Faces

Thought of the day:

“The Church as the body of Christ has many faces. The Church prays and worships. It speaks words of instruction and healing, cleanses us from our sins, invites us to the table of the Lord, binds us together in a covenant of love, sends us out to minister, anoints us when we are sick or dying, and accompanies us in our search for meaning and our daily need for support. All these faces might not come to us from those we look up to as our leaders. But when we live our lives with a simple trust that Jesus comes to us in our Church, we will see the Church’s ministry in places and in faces where we least expect it.

If we truly love Jesus, Jesus will send us the people to give us what we most need. And they are our spiritual leaders.” (emphasis mine)

– Henri Nouwen

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Losing Love

How deceitful are our hearts! How  quickly the flesh rears its ugly head; how easily pride emerges despite our best intentions.

Unity, humility and community: and love is the thread that binds it all together.

God forgive me for losing sight of this in the midst of all that is going on in my personal and ecclesial life.

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At work, I recently took the CliftonStrengths (Strength Finders 2.0) assessment to discover my strengths-based profile. I’ve written other similiar tests before, such as Insights Discovery, MBTI, and DISC. I have to be honest and admit that I’m a little skeptical about the accuracy of these tests and their ability to fully capture the complexities and nuances of human personality. Nevertheless, my test results seem to coincide to a significant degree, so perhaps there’s some value after all.

I thought it’d be interesting to look at the results and see how they correlate to my spiritual gifting, and where my strengths could be used in kingdom service.

Cliftton 34 Themes

As you can see, my top 10 strengths cluster in 2 domain areas:

Strengths Distribution   

That my top 10 strengths are predominantly in Strategic Thinking and Relationship Building is not too surprising, especially at this stage in my life. I definitely embrace a holistic and systems thinking approach, whether I’m teaching a Bible study, analyzing our church’s current state of affairs, or planning an event. This causes no end of frustration for me when dealing with people whose perspective is myopic and fragmentary. But, I am reminded that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”, so it’s a good thing I have also learned the importance of building strong relationships. Indeed, my favourite Bible verse is: “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34,35; CSB).

It was instructive to read about each theme and how I might make use of them; here are some of the things that jumped out at me in looking at my top 5:

(more…)

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Who Am I?

Here we are, almost 4 years after stepping through the doors of my current church. Sadly, I “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. More accurately, I haven’t been able to be fully present as myself. I feel constrained to fit in within the boundaries and the borders inherent in traditional church life. Honestly, at times I feel caged. All I want is to be me, to be able express myself in the liberty of the Spirit. As Bruce Lee said, “To me, ultimately, martial arts means honestly expressing yourself.”

Who am I?  Well, at times,  I am a provocateur, who loves to challenge the status quo and stir things up, especially in the midst of dry and rigid formalism and traditions, and shallow and sentimental silliness.

I’m also a philosopher loves to reflect deeply on ideas and eschews superficial thoughts. I am insatiably curious. I will question everything.

At times I’m a reluctant prophet who is grieved at the current state of the church and longs to call people back to the simplicity that is in Christ.

Other times, I am a poet/painter, yearning for a deeper connection to the people and world around me, longing to be able to express my deepest desires, to paint what is possible here and now—yet knowing that ultimate fulfillment and flourishing awaits the eschaton.

In my better moments, I aspire to shepherd others, hoping to function as a failing and faltering pastor-teacher (minus the clericalism) who is burdened to feed the flock with healthy food, to care for them deeply, to protect them, and to lead them beside the still waters. Perhaps those days are past for this tired old soul? Or perhaps because only professionals are recognized as qualified?

Lastly, there is a part of me that shall always be the prodigal: running away from my Father and then crawling back on my knees, begging for forgiveness.

Right now, at this juncture, I feel the church needs to hear the prophetic voice, but alas, “a prophet is not accepted in his hometown” (Luke 4:24; ISV).

“But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord
    or speak in his name,
his word burns in my heart like a fire.
    It’s like a fire in my bones!
I am worn out trying to hold it in!”
– Jer. 20:9 (NLT)

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Sorrow

This song seems to capture my mood these days:

It feels like falling.
It feels like rain.
Like losing my balance
Again and again.
It once was so easy;
Breathe in, breathe out.
But at the foot of this mountain,
I only see clouds.

I feel out of focus,
Or at least indisposed
As this strange weather pattern
Inside me takes hold.
Each brave step forward,
I take three steps behind.
It’s mind over matter –
Matter over mind.

Slowly, then all at once.
A single loose thread
And it all comes undone.

Where there is light,
A shadow appears.
The cause and effect
When life interferes.
The same rule applies
To goodness and grief;
For in our great sorrow
We learn what joy means.

I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to fight it.
I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to fight it.
I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to fight it.
But I will learn to fight, I will learn to fight,
‘Til this pendulum finds equilibrium.

Slowly, then all at once.
The dark clouds depart,
And the damage is done.
So pardon the dust
While this all settles in.
With a broken heart,
Transformation begins.

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