What You Need to Know About Great Leaders

leadershipblog.pngI read a lot of leadership books. I listen to a number of leadership podcasts a week. I send out a monthly leadership newsletter to our staff. So, I really appreciate and value the necessity of good leadership.
The problem is that the Bible talks about something so much more than “leadership.” The Bible talks about serving. For all of our culture’s focus on being a leader, the Bible seems to want to place the focus on serving and being a servant. And, this is a crucial distinction to make in our current culture and world.
To be a leader, you often talk about being in front, ahead and being an example, and – here is the main point – where people can see you. Because you want to show them the way, you want to inspire them and you hope to motivate them forward through your efforts.
But, true service has the same inspiring outcome, but through a different means. You are not out front getting recognition, but in the background doing what needs to be done. You aren’t trying to be an example, you are simply being faithful. The point isn’t for people to notice you, but for you to notice others.
It is very easy to fall into the leadership trap in our current culture. We think that what will save the church is leadership – that what we need is better and truer leaders. And, while I’m certainly not against leadership, I think we need to regain a focus on serving. It is so easy to assume that to be a leader means being a leader like we see in our culture, but, for Jesus, leadership doesn’t look like our culture, it looks like Him and serving.
Jesus says, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.” (Matthew 20:25-26, NLT) 
While I think being a leader matters immensely, what I know is this – that the best leaders were first, and primarily are, servants. And, the worst leaders are those who never serve, but command and direct.
So, I write all this, with books on leadership on my shelf, this article going out to you and a desire to lead well as a reminder: Leadership is never the main thing, service is. 
And, for all our culture’s preoccupation with leadership, I think it’s time to do something countercultural: Serve.

There are Two Ways Through Life – the Way of Grace and of Nature

On Sunday we talked about a parable of Jesus found in Matthew 20 – “The parable of the vineyard workers”. You can download the sermon here. In this sermon we also saw and talked about  a clip from the movie the Tree of Life, discussed the danger of earning rewards from relationships, and talked a lot about grace.

Yet after the sermon there were two thoughts that really lingered for me. We discussed how you can actually “use” relationships and people. That if you love what you get from someone – you don’t love them, instead you love what you get. So if you love how God gives you eternal life – you love eternal life, not God. The point was that there is a danger in letting the rewards or results of a relationship becoming the reason for a realtionship.

So as I was driving home on Sunday I asked myself: Is there any part of my relationship with God – where the focus has shifted from loving God to loving what he does for me? Have I at all gotten caught up with the benefits of my relationship with God without appreciating being in a relationship with God?

That was the first thought that I found challenging, and worth reflecting on. The second was how we ended on Sunday, focusing on the fact that there are two ways through life – the way of grace or the way of nature. While there are two ways through life, there is only one way into the Kingdom and that’s through grace. So the question then is am I living in the way of grace or nature?

Neither of these questions are easy: are we using relationships or appreciating them? Are we living according to what is fair, or by grace? Are we giving or focusing on what we get?

Sometimes though the most difficult questions are the most worthwhile…

Discussion Questions:

  • Adult Questions:
  • What excites you about God’s grace?
  • Who in your life needs to be given God’s grace – without expectations – as an example of the Kingdom? How can you give them grace?
  • How can you make “giving grace” a regular part of your life?
  • Questions for Young Families:
  • Share with them what grace is. Use an example from their lives. For example when you let them do something even if they didn’t deserve to because of their behaviour. Ask them in what times might they might need to show grace to others (i.e. when playing and sharing, when someone calls them a name, etc)?
  • Weekly Challenge:  Give grace to someone who doesn’t deserve it…free them and yourself