Month: May 2012

Parenting to Win

Psalm 127:4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.

Our children and our parenting were born into a war, not a vacation.  There is a real battle going on for the hearts and lives of our children and our families.  Unfortunately, many parents have either surrendered their children and their homes by outsourcing their parenting to teachers, coaches, friends, and youth groups, or they are battling with their children more than for their children. As Charles Swindoll says, “Schools, youth groups, teachers, coaches, and after school programs can’t resurrect in a child what is being put to death in the home” Furthermore, Satan loves to keep parents preoccupied with fighting with their children so as to distract and prevent them from fighting for their children.

Fathers honoring their leading role in the home with maturity, integrity, wisdom and strength is no longer lifted up in our culture, but rather mocked by figures like Homer Simpson and Ozzy Osbourne, sending mothers into a confused tailspin of trying to pick up the pieces and somehow make the whole parenting thing work. If mothers aren’t fulfilling a healthy role in the home its because we men first screwed up ours.

For many parents, we want to win the parenting war going on within our culture and our homes.  In moments of inspiration and courage, we set the standards, communicate the boundaries, create the time and energy for our children, only to have it all undone by the next pouting match, soccer season, job promotion, moment of needed discipline, guilt trip, or conversation with another parent about all the things they let their kids do.

It’s harder now to parent our children God’s way than ever before, and my sense is that many  parents are dying a silent death as they resign themselves to a passive, tolerant, culturally correct style of parenting that might as well send the message to the rest of the world, “We give up, you raise them.”  It seems these days, we aren’t parenting to win, we are parenting to survive.

Like a seen from  the movie Braveheart, I feel like shouting out a charge to parents to pick up their parenting bow-and-arrow and fight!  Our children’s lives, our homes, our culture, and our future is at stake.  It may not be easy, but we CAN win!

I love the image God gives us of parenting in Psalm 127.

Psalm 127:4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.

Among the many layers of meaning within this passage, I believe this passage brings us tremendous wisdom on how to win as parents and parent to win!   To that end, here are some powerful principals from this singular passage…

1) We need to see our parenting as nothing less than a WAR for our children and their future.   As parents, we need to see ourselves as warriors at a DEFCON 5  level of alert with our parental radars fine tuned onto the battle field of our children’s lives. There can be no more passive, sideline parenting! Passive parenting is an act of surrender in the war going on for our children and their future.  Parent, do you know what’s underneath your child’s bed, in their closet? Do you know what their activity is on facebook? Do you monitor what music they listen too?  Do you know who their closest friends are? Do you have a relationship with their teachers and coaches?  Satan wants to have influence and leverage in your children’s lives, the question is, do you want it more than him? And, how much are you willing to flat out fight for it!  It will be and is a battle.

2) Draw your children as close as possible as soon as possible-  The #1 thing every parents needs in the war for our children and their future is… influence. The bonds of love and togetherness are the most important influence establishers you can have with your children.   The moment you lose influence as a parent is the moment you begin to lose the battle.

The first move an archer makes is to pull the arrow close to themselves. That action gains them the power, leverage, and control they need to point and shoot the arrow accurately.  The best archers bring the arrow as close to their body as possible.  Powerful influencers in your child’s life that draw them close to you are… love, affection , praise, example, correction, discipline, clear boundaries, interest, fun, togetherness, encouragement, and listening.  If you aren’t intimately and directly involved in your child’s life you will lack in influence, period.  Never let any person or thing win the battle for time, attention, and involvement in your child’s life.  It’s very hard to point our children in the right direction if we first don’t draw close to them and gain influence. If your children are 16 and younger, ask yourself… who or what are the top influencers in their life?  If your name wasn’t first or very high up on the list, you may have a real opportunity and need to strengthen this area of your parenting. No, a lack of influence isn’t always about what a parent has or hasn’t done, that’s for sure.  There are awesome, faithful parents who lack influence because their children have rebelled or made pour choices completely separate from a healthy home and great parents. Yet, for some parents, we lack needed influence because we simply aren’t doing our jobs.

3) Point your children in the direction God has for them.  After pulling the arrow close, aim is the next priority to the archer. Every great archer has a target in sight and in mind.  As parents we need to have a set target or goal for the parenting of our children. We need to have a sense of clear vision and direction. As my pastor friend Walk Kallestad says, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”  As parents, we are a kind of launch pad to our children’s lives and part of our critical responsibility is to point their lives in the right direction. Being a few inches off-target on the launch pad can translate into being miles away from where God wants our children to be in the future..

The most important pursuit in this area of parenting is to discern what God’s vision is for your child’s future. The Bible says, “Train a child in the way he should go...”-Proverbs 22:6.  Notice is doesn’t say, train them in the way YOU went or the way YOU think they should go.

God has a unique vision for your child’s life and future, and chances are it won’t be in the same exact path you chose. Our job is to draw so close to God and our children that we can clearly see the destiny God has for our children. Our children have specialized God given passions, gifts, and personalities that need to be discerned, developed and directed.  Not having a close sense of where God is leading our children is like aimlessly pointing an arrow up in the air and hoping it hits some kind of target that turns out to be the one God wanted.

Furthermore, apart from the unique, specific future God has for our children, there are some general targets God has for all children. God wants us all to become followers of Jesus who grow into maturity and build His Kingdom. God wants all people to become men and women of Godly character, wisdom, and obedience. These are some of the essentials God sees as targets for all of our children.

God has a general and specific target and mind for your children. The question is, do you know what that target is, and are you pointing your parenting in that direction?

4) Release your children overtime to move from your influence to God’s influence

There is of little value for an archer to draw an arrow close to themsleves and carefully point it in the right direction if they aren’t going to ultimately release it.

The ultimate goal of our parenting is to release our children over time from being under our care, direction, and influence to establishing their own, personal walk with the Lord as they seek to follow God’s plan for their life.  No, we never stop being parents, but God desires us to release our children so that they are able to enter a free-will, loving, genuine relationship and life with Jesus. It is during this journey of increasing release that a child grows into expanding opportunity and freedom to own for themselves the direction and values you have been parenting them under.

Archers know that releasing an arrow too soon or waiting too long are both problematic.  Timing is everything.  When we release a child too soon we sabotage their ability to develop as they are not prepared to handle the levels of freedom and responsibility they are prematurely given. Yet, when we hold onto our children too long, we rob them of learning to take responsibility for their lives, facing the consequences of their own actions, and growing in character and confidence. In the one instance they fall to the ground unnecessarily, in the other they are never given the chance to fly.

I am amazed at how we as parents barely draw our kids close, spend very little time pointing our parenting, and haphazardly release are children into the world, and then wonder why we see them tumble, turn, and never reach their potential.

There is a war going on for our children’s lives, but it’s a war we can win!  Let’s take up our parenting bows and learn to fight for our children and their future.

Psalm 127:4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.

Building Trust

One of the most important factors in any relationship is trust. The closer the relationship the higher the level of trust required. Trust is a kind of glue in a relationship that strengthens it and holds it together. In the Bible we see both the value of giving trust and withholding trust in our personal relationships. Additionally, we see there are levels of trust, each based on certain dynamics of the relationship. In simple terms, when it comes to trust, one size nor amount fits all.  To one group, we observe in scripture “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men.” Yet in another place, we read the words of Jesus “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”   Trust is a sacred treasure that, like all things God gives us to share, should be stewarded carefully.  “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

Typically, most of us fall into one of two categories… we either withhold appropriate levels of trust even when it’s safe, or we give too much trust prematurely.  To be sure, the giving of trust into a relationship is an art and balance that is forever learned.  Regardless of which side you tend to err on, here are some principals that have served me well as I seek to be better at building trust in my relationships.

1) Give trust in steps–  For those who are hyper-sensitive to giving trust, if you learn you don’t have to give all your trust at once, it will help you to feel safe in giving a little bit at a time. Instead of never trusting, warming up to the waters of trust one step at a time can be very helpful and healthy.  God operates under this same principal as His word says, “Those who are faithful with a little will be faithful much.”  God first starts with a “little” before He ever gets to “much.” In fact, people who expect you to quickly trust them and become offended when you don’t, are typically people who aren’t very trustworthy anyways. There are some who may want you to prematurely give them all your trust at once (or lots of it) because they know, if you don’t,  you might figure it out that you probably shouldn’t give them any of it.  People who pressure you for trust (especially early on) are typically people who won’t respect it when it is given. When it comes to giving trust, sometimes less is more.  Small steps overtime are much better than no steps at all. Yet, small steps overtime are also better then one immediate big step. For those who are too free with your trust, taking steps will help you to have the self-control that doesn’t pile on more trust into the relationship than it can handle.  This is contra-productive. The relationship could have handled a smaller amount of trust and grown to build more, but instead too much was given prematurely, the trust was not honored, you are disappointed, and the relationship is worse off than if trust had been allowed to grow over time. Giving too much trust too soon might feel like it builds relationships and makes you a loving person, but in fact, it can make the relationship into a house of cards that easily falls down in ruin.

2) Go out of your way to show yourself to be trustworthy-  I am often amazed at how we expect people to trust us while at the same time we aren’t willing to earn it , intentionally show we are trustworthy, and give trust time to grow. Rather, sometimes we display behaviors and attitudes that erode trust and expect trust to be given in return.  The Bible contradicts this thinking saying, “A man reaps what he sows.” It’s unfair and unrealistic to expect or demand trust from another while either untrustworthiness is being displayed or you are not extending yourself and showing yourself to be trustworthy.  Don’t expect trust to be the outcome given from poor communication, withheld  feelings, flattery, manipulation, violated boundaries, hidden agendas, selfishness, lies, gossip, or division.  These are a few among the definite trust busters of relationships.  Instead, if you want to build trust, take the initiative to do your part in preventing the person or group from having any real reason to withhold the giving of trust over time.  If it’s with your boss, show up on time to work, go the extra mile, don’t participate in the office gossip. If it’s with your spouse, be open and honest, be emotionally available, communicate consistently and frequently,  explain your decisions, resolve conflict promptly and completely, and communicate your activities.  If it’s with a friend, show your devotion, communicate your heart, don’t let assumption go without clarification or confirmation.  In all relationships, ask the trust building kind of questions, “How are we doing?” “Are we okay” “Anything we need to talk about?” “Are we on the same page?” “How are you feeling about things?” “Help me understand, why did you do ________?

3) Put your ultimate trust in Jesus- All our relationships with people  are to be an extension from our relationship with Jesus. The trust we have with Jesus first and foremost is to be carefully extended into our relationships not replaced by our relationships. I find it staggeringly profound that Jesus entrusted himself to no one, that special level of trust was reserved for His heavenly Father.  When people fail us, Jesus does not, will not, and cannot. With this anchor to our soul and well-being firmly secure, we are able to extend portions of that trust we have found in Christ into our relationships so that the work of God can be done in and through them.


Developing Close Relationships

There is obviously bucket loads of things that can be said about the nuances of developing close relationships.  Most people want close relationships, but realize that it is an endeavor that can be easier said than done.  Here are some things that are helping me along my journey of learning to love the Master and master His love as I seek to develop close relationships.

Don’t have unhealthy expectations:  We should never turn to a human being to meet needs in us that only God can.  When we place that kind of pressure on our relationships, we sabotage the very thing we desire to build… close relationships.  No person can complete you, make you happy, heal your soul, nor be your sole strength and security. Leaning on others for how we should feel about ourselves is a classic example of where we turn to people to meet needs that only God can and should.  For certain, close relationships involve the blessings of giving and receiving  as we carry each others burdens and do life together. But understanding the limits of what we should expect and what we can experience in our earthly relationships, and turning to our relationship with Christ  first and foremost for our core needs is critical.  This enables us, ironically, to be free to love and be loved by another. We don’t try to fix nor be fixed, change, nor be changed, rescue, nor be rescued, complete, nor be completed by another. Rather, we can truly love and receive love.  Healthy expectations increase the potential for close relationships.

Discern to Develop: I find it interesting that Jesus had only a handful of people He developed close relationships with.  He was friendly and caring to the masses, but only had a handful of close relationships.  These relationships took time and investment. We see with Jesus that the essential ingredients of close relationships such as trust, honesty, and honor were developed over time, much of it spent together.  Peter, James, and John were among those whom Jesus drew close to Himself.  Were any of them perfect? No, hardly.  Yet we see in Jesus and the counsel of God’s Word, the value of being discerning of those whom we draw closely and to do so over time.

As an example from my own life, I have found 5 commonalities in the awesome people whom I have close relationships with.  I share these with you not to foster a “what’s in it for me” attitude toward developing close relationships. But rather to show the kind of mutually given dynamics that create an atmosphere where close relationships can develop. It’s in giving that we receive.

1) They are careful with my heart: I see in these people the presence of having my best interest at heart. It is truly humbling. They want to see me succeed and care about my well being. When I rejoice, they rejoice, when I mourn, they mourn with me.  They do not take advantage, use, manipulate, or disregard. They are not driven by agenda nor see me or our relationship as disposable or transitional.  They are not malicious, abrasive, nor shady, but rather humble, gentle, and encouraging.

2) They are open and honest: I see in the people a care about keeping things within the relationship well communicated and resolved. What a deep blessing this is. They assume the best and clear up the unknown. The speak the truth in love and avoid concealing issues in the shadows. They are people who assume the best and are willing to lovingly confront with the worst. They are real people, with real emotions, real faith, real flaws, and real lives. They are direct people who value good conversations where truth and truthfulness can flourish.

3) They freely invest their time and energy into the relationship:  I see in these people an undeserved joy in being with me and a sharing of many of my values. This is indeed gold for the soul.  I have found that the people I am closest with I spend the most time communicating with. These are people I don’t have to try to pull into my life and get them to take an interest in me, nor keep it. Their energy for me and our relationship is self-fueled.

4) They honor and respect the vision God has for my life: I see in these people the reality that though we may have our differences, they value what God is doing in my life and want to encourage and support what God is doing.  How good it is to have spiritual support and encouragement. The people closest to me have a thriving, growing relationship with Jesus and value His presence in our relationship.

5) They stay by my side:  I see in these people a knowledge of my strengths and my weaknesses, my failures and my successes, and yet they still desire to remain an intimate  part of my life. What a gift from above.  For them, the relationship goes beyond what they can do, gain, or accomplish with me or from me, but rather is anchored on the deep value they have placed on simply being together in life; emotionally, physically, and spiritually. These are loyal people, even when I am wrong or faltering. Their interest in me and my life remains in all seasons. They are gracious and forgiving, with an earned mutual trust that our deepest desire is to see God work in each others lives and to encourage and protect that, along with the relationship God has given us.

It suspect it would be rather difficult to develop a close relationship without the 5 things I mentioned above. If you have the sense that a person just isn’t willing to bring one of these 5 things to the table, they may not be a person where drawing close will be met with wholeness. Yet, even more importantly, in creating an relational atmosphere where closeness can develop, it is just as vital (if not more) to give these 5 things as it is to receive them. Do not expect to receive what you are not willing to give. Just as you would do well to look for these 5 aspects within the relationships you seek to draw close, you would do all the more benefit to make sure you are willing and able to give in these areas.

Pour Out Your Life  There are always risks involved with relationships. At first, when you are developing closeness with a person, the risks seems to increase. In truth, it actually does. Yet, once closeness is tested and established overtime, the greater risk  becomes not making the most of the relationship through your investment.  With the people who are closest to me, I feel little risk because I know those relationships are secure. It is indeed a mistake to pour yourself out too soon into a relationship, closeness can’t be rushed nor fabricated. Yet, it is equally a mistake not to pour yourself out to relationships that desire it and will steward it.

God calls us by His example to be the one to initiate this pouring out of our lives into people.  We love because God first loved us. Will it always be returned, received, or respected? No. But all the times it is abused, rejected, and disrespected are worth the sacred times when it takes root and grows into a lifeline of intimacy and togetherness imaged by the Trinity itself.   Does God want us to be careful with our lives and the sharing of such? Yes, absolutely. However, pouring you life out into people is never a waste for you. Love is it’s own reward. It can only be wasted by others.

Don’t expect to get a relational return without a relational investment. On the right soil, love gives birth to love, trust gives birth to trust, and pouring out gives birth to mutual blessing. Don’t focus on dry ground encounters, rekindle your hope for a harvest. Pour out your life.

 

Do Celebrity Pastors Smell?

Within recent years, the term “Celebrity Pastor” has become commonly used. Typically it refers to a pastor who has a large church or ministry, speaking schedule, and has probably authored a book or two.  Because so, other pastors, followers, and folks in ministry desire to honor them, learn from them, follow them, and encourage them.  We all want to be successful, and benefiting from the success of others in various ways is usually a noble pursuit.

Also, within recent years, there is a growing culture of people who have become highly critical of celebrity pastors in general.  Some have even used their platforms (usually blogs, radio, and websites) to focus their ministry on the criticism of other ministries, and usually it has do with a celebrity pastor. Sadly, one of the things I have noticed is much of the criticism is based on heresay, speculation, personal opinion, and denominational differences.  Rarely does it originate from real, credible, and firsthand personal experience.

During a season several years ago, I joined in the frenzy of critical Christians who seemed to have a spiritual gift in bashing celebrity pastors and their ministries, particularly those of the contemporary flavor.  All you need to do is go blog hunting and you too can easily get caught up in it. Gratefully, I have grown up and moved on from that herd.

So the question becomes, is their something intrinsically wrong or flawed with becoming a celebrity pastor? Are all celebrity pastors alike?  Are they all arrogant, unapproachable, self serving, bible twisting, snobby people as some portray them?  In my humble opinion? Absolutely not!  In fact, every “Celebrity Pastor” that I have developed a personal relationship and have first hand experience with, have what I see as a deep passion for Jesus and seeing His Kingdom built. I think it’s very unfortunate when pastors of any flavor get criticized or have judgments made about them from those who have never truly walked in their shoes nor closely walked with them in their ministry.  Many have a very limited perspective on what it truly entails being a Lead Pastor. Until you are completely in that role, you can never fully understand nor appreciate.

Are there people who idolize celebrity pastors? Yes, unfortunately. Does that mean the celebrity pastor desires that? No.  In my humble opinion, as we first and foremost follow Jesus, we do well to come under a spiritual leader giving them honor, loyalty, and our best followship. While Paul was following Jesus and leading others to do the same, He also said, “imitate me.”

Don’t assume that every celebrity pastor’s heart has gone hollywood.  In fact, it’s typically furthest from the truth. Rather, pray for these leaders and give them the benefit of the doubt. Chances are, if you were in their shoes,  you would want the same and be frustrated when you didn’t get it.

Do celebrity pastors smell? Yes. Does their poop stink? Of course (though in this I have no firsthand experience).

So let’s look for the best in what God is doing in and through them as they pursue their calling. Let’s stop focusing on what we don’t like or agree about how another pastor or leader is fulfilling their calling, and focus on doing our best to follow ours. God is not going to hold us accountable for what they do, but He will want to see a return on what He has given us.

Let’s move away from the Great Criticism and get back to the Great Commission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Key Ministry Relationships

Leadership Stages

Critical Stages of Leading People

Jesus was and is the Master of leading people. One of the most powerful things I have observed in His example is the stages He goes through, overtime, with the people He is leading and developing. The way Jesus handles leadership at the beginning of His interaction with a person or group is different from His style and methods later on.  There is something sacred and necessary within the stages Jesus goes through that make His leadership successful. In fact, when followed, these stages do well at preventing us from microwaving leaders or bottlenecking them; both are which are not healthy.

Stage One: Directive

Mark 1:15-20  “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! 16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

This passages marks the beginning of Jesus’ leadership of the disciples. Notice, Jesus is directive, not democratic. He doesn’t begin with consensus-style leadership nor does He call for a vote on His teaching of the Kingdom or try to get these fisherman to agree with His strategy and tactics.

Jesus simple says, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men”

Leaders must have and understand their God-given authority and the need to be directive at certain stages of leadership. Jesus didn’t poll the disciples and ask, “O.k. guys, what kind of people do you want to become and what do you think we ought to do together?” Rather, Jesus came with vision and a sure sense of direction. He didn’t ask the disciples to give Him vision, He asked them to give Him their followship.

In the beginning of leading people, the directive stage of leadership is critical both for the leader and the follower.  It prevents the leader from the early stage temptations of morphing into a managing people pleaser, political player, or an insecure, indecisive gatherer. Yet, it also helps the follower to not overestimate their readiness for the journey, become arrogant, assume false expectations, or develop their own personal preferences and agenda.

Jesus knew, at this stage, giving clear, decisive direction was in the best interest of all involved. He wasn’t interested in managing their lives, He was interested in leading them.

As the common saying goes, “Managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing.”

When we start on a new trail in pursuit of a God-vision, we need a strong confident leader to show us the way.  There will be a time for consensus building, for gathering and listening to opinions from those that follow, but that time is not best placed at the beginning stages.

Stage One dynamics…

The Follower has : High enthusiasm, high confidence, low experience, low competence

The Leader gives: High direction, high example, low consensus, low explanation

 

Stage Two: Visionary Coach

Luke 12:32-34“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus, in this stage, adapts His style into more of a coaching style. He increases His time with the disciples in order to help them work through their developing insecurities and fears.

Leaders do well to help their followers go through the doubts and insecurities that occur as one pursues anything of God. Growing in relationship with Him and leadership capacity within His Kingdom is not always pleasant nor easy.  People are often excited at first about moving forward with you and God, but soon they realize there are challenges, internally and externally. It is during this time that a leader must help their followers along, knowing that some may choose to abandon ship and go back to the bliss of stage one with someone or something else.

Continually coming back to the vision and articulating it is critical at this stage.  Vision helps us see where we are going when we can’t see it for ourselves and those we lead. Vision is what reminds us of our calling and keeps our eyes on the prize. Vision is what rekindles the flames of our hearts and brings us back to centering on Jesus and His purposes and plans.

Helping followers understand that what God has called us to become and do is impossible apart from Him is a key accomplishment in this stage.  Vision is what enables our souls to expand with increasing room for faith.  Without leading people to develop their faith and character, the potential of what God has and can do with them will never be reached.  A coaching style enables a continuation of the directive style of stage one while adding a dimension of developing responsibility and personal growth for the follower, and developed trust levels between the follower and the leader.

Stage Two dynamics…

The Follower has: Low enthusiasm, low confidence, low experience, low competence

The Leader gives: High direction, high discussion, high example, high accessibility

 

Stage Three: Coaching / Pastoral / Team

John 15:12-17  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

This is the stage where Jesus starts to shift to a “You do it, and I will help and watch” style and strategy of leadership.  Over time, the followers have demonstrated increasing levels of loyalty, shared vision, competency and spiritual growth and are now ready to be given new levels of responsibility and intimacy.  Their relationship with Jesus has been strengthened, and now it’s time for more of a team approach as Jesus opens the door to input, ideas, and consensus building.

It is during this stage that Jesus begins to introduce the idea that one day, Jesus will be much more distant from them. This is a kind of pre-commissioning stage.

The major challenges of this stage is to ensure that the vision has been passed off to your followers through tests as you give them increasing levels of responsibility, decision making, and influence with you.  At this level, the leader needs to learn the art of watching without being noticed so as to create an environment where risk is minimized while testing the follower for readiness for increasing levels of leadership.

It is tempting for leaders to rush this stage, so it’s important to remember it essentially took Jesus three years to get to stage four.  As in a relay race, the passing of the baton is highly practiced, carefully timed, clearly communicated, and very critical.  A bad transition can undo months of hard work.

Leaders do well to help the follower understand the expectations and pacing of this transition period so as to be in continual communication and connection with the process.

Stage Three dynamics…

The Follower has: Increasing enthusiasm, growing experience, intermittent confidence, growing competence

The Leader gives: Lower direction, higher consensus, high discussion, high accessibility

 

Stage Four:  Vision Reproduction / Delegated Authority

Matthew 28:18-20  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus is preparing the disciples to spend less time with Him. He is reducing their hours of contact with Him because He is now delegating authority.  They are now becoming extension and representatives of Him.  Jesus has moved them from “Come follow me” to “Go be Me, stay true to the vision, and do what I taught you to do!”

When the leader sees the individual or team is highly competent, spiritual developed, loyal, trustable, and deeply shares the vision, it is time for delegating authority and responsibility at higher levels.  It’s not about perfection, but it is about progress.  To be highly directive and restrictive when the follower is ready for delegation is to squelch the potential and work of God in and through the follower.

Delegating before stage four at high levels is a recipe for disaster.  The follower may think they are ready for it, but until they have completely gone through stages 1-3, they are not.

At this stage, the closeness with the leader and follower remains, but it is not defined by the amount of time together, but rather the openness, loyalty, and shared vision they have with one another.

Stages of delegation:

1-    I do, you watch

2-    I do, you help

3-    You do, I help

4-    You do, I watch


Stage Four dynamics… 

The Follower has: High enthusiasm, high confidence, high experience, high competence

The Leader gives: Clear but lower direction, high consensus, clear but lower example, high explanation

My Top 3 Leadership Mistakes

My Top 3 Leadership Mistakes

If you are a leader, you surely have made mistakes.  And chances are, you have made the same mistakes more than once. Why?  Because we all have leadership blindspots, areas where we tend to make repeated miscues because we don’t see things within ourselves or those people or systems we lead clearly.

Over my ministry, I have made three general mistakes several times. The good news is that for so long I didn’t even see it, but only the pain these mistakes caused, but now I do.  A great prayer leaders should pray is, “God help me to see the blindspots in my leadership”

Mistake #1  Raising Up Leaders too Quickly

I am a guy who likes to say “yes” and who likes to believe in the best, especially in people.  I want to be a builder of people and groups so much that at times, I rushed ahead. So, when a person comes with an idea, or a position is needed, instead of taking the time to discern and delegate gradually overtime, I would quickly commission, send them up the mountain, and wish for the best.  I didn’t delegate, I abdicated. On so many occasions, my instincts would tell me, “this person isn’t the right fit” or “this person isn’t quite ready” or “we need to take this one step at a time.” However, I would ignore my instincts in an effort to move ahead. Big mistake. As the saying goes, “It’s a lot easier getting married than getting divorced”  Most of the greatest challenges I have faced in ministry have been because I raised someone up too quickly, and knew I was doing it in my spirit.

Can you believe it? I knew in my gutt I was doing the wrong thing, but I pushed ahead anyways.  As Alex McManus once told me in a coaching session, “The moment you stop following your gutt is the moment you stop leading” Ouch.

No one is perfect, nor perfectly ready for any task or appointment, that’s a given. But, in the name of blazing ahead of God and wanting to say “yes” I rejected the model Jesus displayed of taking time upfront to discern, train, develop, and delegate over time. I ignored passages like, “Be careful in the laying on of hands” and “He who is faithful with little will be faithful in much”  And every time, I payed dearly on the back side when that person got in over their heads, couldn’t handle the power, moved too slowly or quickly, spun out of control, or flat out became a renegade. In moving ahead prematurely, I failed them, God, and the ministry as a whole. All in the name of saying “yes” and a trying to be an overnight builder of people and groups.

Mistake #2  Believing I Could Fit where I Didn’t Fit and Change what Really Didn’t Want to Be Changed

No where in ministry has my ego caused me more pain then in thinking I could do what is really impossible, and that is, to change people and circumstances that were set up and bent on resisting change.

On at least two occasions, I have signed on to ministry challenges that in my spirit I knew were set up to fail, but my ego told me, “You are a great leader, you can do the impossible, you can love them on board, pray them on board, and cast enough vision that everything is going to work out all dreamy!” Not. Wise, spirit-filled people even told me ahead of time, “don’t go there” but my ego said, “I can handle it.”  The common sense check/warning in my spirit God gave me ahead of time, I ignored again. How stupid is that? Very.

It doesn’t work well to try to take a square object and jam it into a round hole. Both the object and the whole end up loosing in the end. Yet, I have thought in ministry that I could find a way to fit in or change the shape where there was an obvious misfit.  Do I believe in change? Absolutely. Do I believe people and groups can be transformed, absolutely. But not apart from a comprehensive move of God and the comprehensive openness of the person or group. Furthermore, some organizational systems and strongholds within a group are change killers, and to think one is going to go in and turn it around a part from the spiritual surgery of God and the openness of the patient, is not wise. Even Jesus couldn’t accomplish this among so many groups and individuals. So, why did I think I would be any different? Pride.

The scriptures are true, “Pride comes before a fall” and to be sure my pride has led me down ministry paths I never should have never traveled. I love a challenge, I love to believe in the impossible, I love going where the chance of failure is greater than the chance of success, I love facing the odds and rising above.  But, what you can lead in your own life cannot always be led in the lives of others and groups of people. Discernment and listening to the Spirit of God to only face the challenges He assigns is key.  I will no longer try to lead that which God has warned me not to lead.

Mistake #3  Internalizing Conflict

Conflict is a part of all ministry. So a leader must learn to deal with it without internalizing it. For me, this has been much easier said than done.  I love people, and honestly, like to be loved. Who doesn’t?

For most accomplished leaders, they have those tough conversations, they make the tough decisions, they face the floggings and the oppositions. Does it hurt them? Yes. Does it break their heart? Yes.  Do they consider their own brokenness and shortcomings? Yes.  But do they internalize it and let it all eat them alive? No. Somewhere they have learned to “turn it off” and “let it go.” They have become skilled at resisting second guessing themselves to death and emotionally nose diving into a tail spin.

I don’t like the idea of getting thick skin. I like the idea of coming into the secret place of God. I’ll take His skin over any thickening of mine.

I am learning how to come into the presence and strength of God in such a way that enables me to be secure and safe while still being as direct, decisive, and assertive as good leadership requires.

May God bless you and your leadership!

© 2017 Chris Kratzer

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