Thursday, August 11, 2011

Leadership-Jesus Style!

Ooh I love it when my daily Bible reading and Disciple study reading converge!  I got so fired up reading today's scriptures that I couldn't wait to share!  This is good!

Let's start with Proverbs 16 because there are just some real gems in this one little chapter!  Here are just a few that focus on leadership.  From The Message Paraphrase:
"A good leader motivates, doesn't mislead, doesn't exploit...Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kind; sound leadership has a moral foundation...Good tempered leaders invigorate lives; they're like spring rain and sunshine"
Now let's head over to Matthew 12.  Up to this point Jesus has been teaching not only the Disciples but also using parables to teach to the crowds.  He's been working miracles, he's been confronting the Pharisees.  In Chapter 12 he heals the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath.  This did not sit well with the Pharisees and in verse 14 we read that this is the point where the Pharisees started actively conspiring against him in order to get rid of him.  Verse 15 tells us that Jesus departs but large crowds follow him and "he cured them all."  In verse 16 it goes on to say that he told these individuals the following:
"...and he ordered them not to make him known."
In other words, he was quite content with flying low under the radar.  That little tidbit right there is a key element that we tend to overlook when we talk about leadership!  The best leaders are servants first.  They are content to do what they have been asked to do quietly and consistently without a whole lot of hoopla and fanfare. 

Everything that I listed from Proverbs 16, Jesus did in abundance.  His leadership had a moral foundation.  He didn't exploit, he went to those who were being exploited.  He abhorred wrong doing.  He was a motivator and he brought a message of hope, just like a spring rain and sunshine!  He didn't mislead.  He invigorated people's faith in God.  Jesus did everything mentioned in Proverbs 16 as marks of a good leader!  And he did it without being in a front and center position of power or authority! 

My my, how different than what we see from our leaders today who rush out and do the rounds on all the news  programs!  Look at me I'm great and powerful!  I accomplish nothing but I sure sound good! 

No a truly good leader does their job and doesn't search out the limelights.  And that is because they know that it's not about their best interest, it is about doing the best for those around them.  Let me give you an example.  It's something that I did and I'm not sharing this to toot my own horn but hopefully to explain why I'm not going in to formal ministry full time like so many people have suggested that I do.  I'm very very comfortable with just doing what needs to be done and flying low under the radar.  I much prefer being low man on the totem pole!

Before I came to First United Methodist in Washington, a previous minister had decided to start a Contemporary service.  To put things nicely let's just say that there was a bit of controversy that surrounded this move.  I was not fully aware of this before I agreed to join the Praise Team and I inadvertently stepped smack dab into the middle of an undercurrent of disagreement that simmered just under the surface.  Long story short, some individuals left and it looked like the Contemporary service would have to be discontinued due to the lack of a leader for the Praise Team.  After discussion with those of us who chose to stay it was decided that I would be the one who would plan the music for the service.  I took this very seriously!  I would look at the upcoming sermon topics, the scripture and the points of the sermon and I tried to pick music that either picked up on a section of scripture or a point in the sermon.  But I didn't stop there.  I made sure that I sent out a list of songs to the minister, musicians, singers and support team for the upcoming weeks and asked for feedback.   I made sure that we either had the sheet music or had access to the sheet music and created a master file so we were not scrambling at the last minute at practice trying to get it all together.  Every week I sent out a reminder e-mail with the songs and also would add links to You Tube videos of the songs so the musicians and singers could listen to them prior to practice.  And at practice, if a particular song didn't work out-no problem!  We would just switch it out with a song that everyone was comfortable with playing and singing!  Basically, I paid attention to the details.  What did the team need to do their very best was the question that I asked over and over again.  My job as a "leader" was to serve the team in the best way possible.  My job was to make sure that they had what they needed, when they needed it, so they could do their very best!  And when the few people who knew that I was the one picking the music would praise me, I would thank them but I always ALWAYS pointed out the fact that I had a wonderful team to work with and that it was a team effort!  And believe me, being up front leading worship is a team effort, whether it is a traditional choir or a praise team!  Does worship uplift and inspire and challenge and point you to the source?  That's what a good leader can accomplish if they can put their ego aside and use their gifts to bring out the very best in others.  A good leader is first and foremost an excellent servant.  That's what I tried to be and from all reports, I did a pretty good job!  But as far as I am concerned that is exactly what I was supposed to do in the first place!

Look, there are things that I know that I am very very good at-I can preach a good sermon, I can plan an excellent worship service, I can teach an inspiring class and I'm not half bad at writing!  These are my gifts and I have agreed to use them at various times and that is enough for me!  If these gifts, used properly bring just one person one step further in their walk of faith then I have accomplished what I have been asked to do!  Jesus had it right!  Do what you are asked to do, be a blessing to others, do it well and fly low under the radar.  By serving others you lead by example. 

I've told you my story simply as an example.  You may have very different gifts than I have.  That's a good thing!  Maybe your gift is managing money.  Maybe your gift is being able to create really cool graphics on the computer.  Maybe you are really good at making others feel comfortable in a social situation.  How can you use your particular gifts to serve others?  That my darling friends, is truly the mark of a leader-when you can take those God given gifts that you have and use them to help others.  I know there is a leadership gift in each and every one of you!  Use that gift to serve others and you will be a leader-Jesus style! 

Leadership Jesus style is not person driven, it's not ego driven, it is servant driven!  And there but by the grace of God go I.  And by God's grace you will go there too!  Amen and amen!

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