Christianity, according to Rhee, is poised to play a pivotal role in the work of reconciliation in the Korean peninsula. It is difficult to know how this will actually play out, but we can be hopeful that the witness of the church can provide a framework for the difficult work of reconciliation.Continue Reading...
Archives For Leadership
In the Presbyterian Church (USA), we share a common theological language. That language, however, is filled with varying and often competing interpretations. We all say “chips,” but some of us are thinking french fries and others Baked Lays. Same words. Different meanings.Continue Reading...
It’s been a slow week here at jeffgissing.com. My family is in San Diego enjoying some vacation time and celebrating the wedding of my brother-in-law. It has been a fun week–Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, the Science Museum!
This week I’ve been reading Mel Lawrenz’s Spiritual Influence: The Hidden Power behind Leadership. It’s a great book and is helping me get to the heart of what ministry leadership is–something that I explored last week in a couple of posts. Ministry leadership is, in its essence, a function of discipleship. If a leader is not a disciple, her leadership rests on sand rather than bedrock.
Here’s how Lawrenz puts it:
“[Great Christian leaders] know that they’re not the real influencers, but that they are being used by God, who brings enduring, transforming influence in peoples’ lives.”
He later writes:
“Leadership that is entirely self-directed [as opposed to God-directed] will always be pathological….spiritual leadership is an extension of discipleship.”
Most of us are prone to excess in this area.
We either think that ‘leadership’ is a bad thing and we avoid it or we valorize it. The problem with this approach is, of course, that Scripture bears testimony to the importance of using one’s spiritual gifts for the purpose of edifying and building up the body in ways that specifically employ our gifts.
On the other hand, many of us go further than Scripture to become obsessed with leadership. As Lawrenz points out in his book, there is no generic term in Scripture for leadership. Leadership is ever and always linked to participation in the mission of God in a specific and concrete way. Leadership is not abstract and ephemeral, it is concrete and involved getting your hands dirty in mission.
This week I’m in Madison, WI for InterVarsity’s annual leadership meetings. This year we’ve been hearing from Dr. Dan Meyer, Senior Pastor of Christ Church, Oak Brook (IL). Dan is the co-author of the IVP book, Leadership Essentials. In this morning’s session, Meyer quoted Augustine, the fifth century Bishop of Hippo on the role of the minister. It’s one of my favorite quotes on ministry.
“Disturbers are to be rebuked, the low-spirited to be encouraged, the infirm to be supported, objectors confuted, the treacherous guarded against, the unskilled taught, the lazy aroused, the contentious restrained, the haughty repressed, litigants pacified, the poor relieved, the oppressed liberated, the good approved, the evil borne with and all are to be loved.” -Augustine, Bishop of Hippo
This is a tall order, isn’t it? As I reflected on Augustine’s words I was reminded that in order to come anywhere close to doing this list requires that a pastor be–before all things–a saint, someone who is holy. Consider your pastors, are you giving them time, opportunity, and encouragement to become holier? I sometimes wonder whether the relative weakness of the American church has been caused by the relative functional godlessness of many of our leaders.
What needs to change in order to better facilitate godly leadership?
This series of slides contains a wealth of knowledge about how pastors can work more effectively. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to start thinking of pastors as “non-profit executives” (this is a part, not the essence, of our calling).
The critical work of pastoring–prayer, study, counseling–requires time. And in order to make time for this crucial pastoral work, pastors must be willing to be ruthless about not allowing their managerial work to push their critical pastoral duties to the margins. In effect, managing oneself in ministry is part of discipleship.