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Archive for the ‘Servant Leadership’ Category

Here in Kenya, we are preparing to go to the general elections next year. I bet you’ll hear a lot about the kind of leaders we want or need. We will all hopefully get a chance to choose who to lead us. The problem is leaders can’t choose who to lead. Sure they can pick a constituency and position of influence but they can’t pick and choose the people. They can have the best manifesto and the most elaborate implementation plan but they can’t have the best people to lead. What’s worse is they’ll have to deal with those who already hold them with suspicion. People who don’t want to be led by them.

But what does that have to do with shepherding you ask? Well, everything. You see many of us think the problem with leadership is that we don’t have good leaders. And while we apply that mostly to political leaders we can also share the same attitude in Christian ministry. Get the right person and leadership works, we say. Everyone will be happy, godly, and prosperous. In truth, the best of leaders have to endure harsh criticism and opposition because people don’t want to be led. We enjoy the merits of good leadership but we don’t really want to be led even by the best of leaders. If we did Jesus would face no opposition from our world. People from every nation and race would gather around to serve him who truly cares for them. You’d think the best leader would have everyone following them and doing so joyfully.

But the word of God is unashamed to tell us who we truly are, that we are all rebels. We’ve all gone our separate ways when it comes to God and his authority on us.
Romans 3 says:

10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.
Romans 3 NIV.

We are all sinners who especially hate God’s authority and with it any other form of authority. The world heaps all kinds of praises and massages our ego but the word speaks plainly here. Where the world says we are mostly good but shaped by our environment the word says we are inherently wicked and that it is us who shape our environment that way. That’s the problem of leadership and shepherding. The problem behind every other problem we face is the problem of sin. Adam chose his way and likewise, we do the same. People don’t want to be led and leaders don’t want to be held accountable because they don’t want to be led either. Politicians don’t want to be asked questions and citizens don’t want leaders telling them what to do and how to live.

Back to shepherding and it’s the same problem in Christian ministry. You’d think the redeemed would celebrate good leadership and to some extent, they do as adopted saints. But the presence of indwelling sin in our hearts means we still are rehabilitated rebels. There will be occasions when we despise leadership even from the best pastor and youth worker. Moses was a great sacrificial leader, a Saviour and yet Israel made his life hard. Jesus came to die for his people and if you think perfect leadership none fits the bill more. But he was not only rejected by the religious leaders but the masses demanded for him to be crucified.

If we then approach shepherding thinking that if we do our best, that if we die for the people they’ll love and make it easy for us we are in for a surprise. And yet if we are not willing to die for those we serve we fall short of Jesus’ model and his call to be undershepherds. So how do we shepherd people who naturally don’t want to be led and do it sacrificially?

The first thing is to know we are shepherding among rebels and we too are rebels. It means we know people for who they are and our leadership surpasses mere appreciation to serve a higher goal. John tells us something striking about Jesus in his Gospel. In John 2 we are told:

24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. John 2 NIV.

What is striking is that Jesus knew us more than anyone else, he knew our deep-seated rebellion, and yet he came to die for us. This is shepherding that does not depend on the applause of the sheep. It’s shepherding that follows the way of the Cross. It says that God’s approval and recognition is enough for us. It gives the very best to people who may not naturally want to be led. Such realization will safeguard us from the idolatry of approval and appreciation. It’ll be to God that we look and not merely what we gain from the people. And when people do appreciate and idolize us, our hearts will be shielded from pride.

But since the condition of the heart is also true of us as Gospel ministers we need to ask ourselves if we are also responding similarly. You see it’s not just the normal congregant who has an issue with leadership, our Gospel ministers also don’t want to be undershepherds under the great Shepherd. We can’t lead if we don’t want to follow. How can we ask people to submit to our leadership and shepherding if we won’t submit to Jesus and those he’s entrusted with leadership?

We need to remember we are first his disciples before we are Gospel ministers, first sheep before shepherds, and only undershepherds. Before we murmur and complain of rebel sheep we need to survey our hearts. Would the chief Shepherd say the same of us? To shepherd among rebels, we need to kill our own rebellion and submit to our great Shepherd and those he’s given charge over us. If we desire leadership we must learn submission to godly leadership. If we would be undershepherds we need to obey and follow in the footsteps of our chief shepherd.

To the shepherds among us please remember these words from the apostle Peter:

5 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flockAnd when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 1 Peter 5. NIV

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Thanks to Chris Kiagiri for brilliantly condensing Perman’s What’sBestNext into one of the most helpful sessions of the conference #RTB2015

Eph2Titus2: God saved us for productivity, Matt25: God expects productivity #wbn #RTB2015

“To be productive is to do all the good we can” Every word is important here. DO. ALL. GOOD. CAN. #wbn #RTB2015

RTB 2015 Nairobi WBN

More resources on WBN:

 

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Sammy speaking at MTC Dec 2014

Tweeting the first three days of MTC:

Our 2nd Ministry Training Course is happening. Wonderful testimonies from our apprentices. Great time of Expositions from Acts #MTC2

WhyPreachActs: to persuade us that what the world desperately needs is the gospel & that this gospel is not only the way in but also the way on

Danger for university graduates: head replaces heart. Aim of MTC: a vision of Jesus that moves heart, head & hands

Acts = History, Defence, Guide, Picture of triumph through persecution

Pastor = Servant, Steward, Scum, Father (John Stott on 1 Cor 4)

Additional notes and links:

And in the second year programme:

Please keep praying for us that we would see more and more the glory of the gospel of God and have our hearts, minds and strength captured by that vision.

 

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u course brochure front

  • If you don’t know what this is all about click on the image above to see the new brochure.
  • And check out the U-Course blog.
  • And spread the word on social…

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JPiper: I stand vigilantly on the precipice of eternity speaking 2 people who this wk could go over the edge whether they are ready 2 or not

NewtonG: We don’t go 2 get but 2 serve. We don’t go in our smartness, intellect or in the flesh, we go bowed down, by God’s grace. Love them

Luther: The chief article & foundation of the gospel is that before you take Christ as an example, you accept & recognize him as a gift.

God can use a crooked stick to draw a straight line. #LutherAgain

PstAnthonyBones: By the grace of God I am what I am.

Anthony Bones

And some more notes:

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2014-08-24 16.14.23

Thanking God for a good day yesterday. Here are the notes so far:

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Doctrine of Scripture 2014

Highlights from the first full day of ministry training course for the new apprentices @ the new and upgraded Halfway House, Sigona. With particular thanks to Harrison, Fidel, Mercy and Christine. If I knew how to use Twitter these would be tweets…

The battle for the mind is not to set your hope fully on your dreams but on real events – Cross & Coming (1 Pet 1:13-21) #GospelReality

You can believe the Bible is authoritative and not be evangelical… if you put other sources of authority on the same level. #SolaScriptura

We don’t worship the Bible. The Bible is a witness. To Jesus. (John 5)

It was written *for* you not *to* you. (Rom 15:4; 1 Pet 1:12)

Fear is part and parcel of ministry. It’s v natural when ur dealing with the Word & people. <– maybe Timothy was not so unusual (2Tim 1:7)

All the power of God, his glorious might, is there to strengthen us… for endurance, patience and suffering (Col. 1:11; 2 Tim 1:8)

What went wrong btwn the East Africa Revival and panda mbegu. A failure to guard the gospel.

The saving gospel is what happened 2000 years ago (1 Cor 151-11; John 20:10-31) not what happened 2 years ago

so a story of God’s work in my life *even when it is Christ-exalting* is not the right foundation 4 anyone’s faith. #SubtleDanger

Hire Character. Train Skill. (Peter Schutz)

Servant: faithful, reliable, teachable, available, motivated

colouring, collections, snacks, singing… The ever-present need for Acts 6:1-7 in children’s ministry

Teaching children takes more preparation than teaching adults. Without it you’ll either communicate nothing or lies #LetThemCome

The most important, most foundational thing children need to know is that they are children of Adam #LetThemCome

 

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MTC Dec 13 a

Thanks to all those who were praying last week over the ministry training. Perhaps you were even following the Twitter-esque updates on Facebook. Praise God that we had a really good time together, noses in the Bible, chewing on some very meaty theology, wonderful singing (Salama Rohoni is new favourite for me), and a good atmosphere of fun and fellowship.

As promised to the apprentices, here are the notes and links:

And from the 2nd years programme:

And from the closing carol service:

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Ephesians 6 on children and parents

Next:

work

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

Recently a businessman was telling me that he finds Christian organisations are the worst at paying his invoices. Another said that Christian employees tended to be lazy and produce poorer quality work. And then still another chipped in that he would never again work in a Christian organisation because of the culture of mediocrity and dysfunctional relationships. That’s obviously only anecdotal evidence. I know many wonderful exceptions to those generalisations. But if there is some truth there, what is the root problem? Well we’re all sinners. But surely Christian organisations should be the best places to work in and work with, the best employers with the best employees?

In a great article (here), Graham Hooper, notes that most talks and books on ‘being a Christian in the workplace’ tend to focus on ethics, evangelism or excellence:

  • Ethics: “don’t fiddle your expense accounts and tax returns and don’t steal pencils form the office”
  • Evangelism: “how to turn a chance encounter at the photocopier into a conversation about Jesus”
  • Excellence: “be the very best accountant/advertise/architect you can be”

While all three are hugely important he points out something more fundamental is often neglected – relationships. In particular, Ephesians 6:5-9 (and the parallel passage in Colossians 3:22-4:1) emphasises vertical and horizontal relationships:

  • The vertical relationship – The employee’s primary relationship is with the Lord Jesus. He is a “servant of Christ” (v5). It’s an immensely privileged position (servant of the Lord) and a very humbling one (servant of the Lord). And in exactly the same way the employer is also a slave of Jesus (v9). The gospel levels us all out. It doesn’t matter where we are in the company hierarchy, how long our job title is, we are all simply fellow servants of Christ whose job every day is to do his will, with a passion for him, seeking to please him who loved us and gave himself up for us.
  • The horizontal relationship – Ephesians is amazing here – we are to serve others as if those others are Christ! (v5,7) My service of Christ and service of others are not separate things they are one – I serve Christ through serving my boss as I would Christ. And – even more amazingly – it’s true of the boss as well – “do the same to them” (v9) i.e. do good to your slaves and employees, serve them, as if you were serving the Lord and not men. A servant leader. How radical would that have sounded 2000 years ago? And how radical now? How would our workplaces be different if we were serving each other as if we were serving Christ?

This is what God is concerned about in the workplace – relationships. As Hooper says:

I’ve found that building relationships with people is often the biggest test for the Christian. Relationships at work raise many challenges for us: how we exercise authority; how we respond to authority; how we handle conflict. In these areas our professed faith is tested every day. But, every time we face a work situation where we seek to respond in a way that honours the name of Jesus, then our work is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer. In becoming an act of service to the Lord himself, it becomes something of eternal significance, part of our worship of God and not ‘in vain’.

And He is at work in us. As our commitment to do our work for the Lord is tested, so we learn to rely on God and so we grow. At work we have to deal with long hours, pressure, difficult people, difficult customers, failure when things don’t turn out well. It is in the pressure cooker of work, in the rough and tumble of life, that God moulds us into the people he wants us to be.

It is out of this ‘rough and tumble’, out of the and messiness of relationships, out of the fusion of vertical and horizontal, eternal and mundane, that the fruit of ethics, evangelism and excellence comes.

You can listen to Graham Hoopers’ talks for the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity here.

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