It's Not Optional: Qualifications vs Diligent Obedience  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

'Had a great talk today with some passionate leaders about needs they saw for outreach, discipleship and training/development. Sparked a valuable discussion about the tension between leadership principles and Biblical principles of discipleship... prepare, measure, plan, train, steward, diligently administer gifts, and DO. Concentric circles of churchy concepts create confusion at times...but within the throws of tension lies clarity and truth radiating with life-giving power.

Leadership = influence, ability or responsibility to effect people towards a goal/objective; it's the application of beliefs, values, character, skills and knowledge towards accomplishing a desired movement of people. Romans 8:28 lists it as a gifting within the Body of Christ and something to be administered with "diligence." Outside of the church leadership is largely assigned based upon attractive qualities of exterior qualification. Biblically, it's not quite so logical...stuttering sheep herding fugitives are sent to lead a multi-million man march, fisherman are called to be travelling spokesmen, young men from single mother homes are put in leadership of frontier churches and lower class blue collar workers are sent with a small group of followers to overthrow oppressive armies. Sometimes leadership roles had qualifications (spiritual maturity, devotion, abandonment of fleshly loyalties to pursue God as first in all of life), sometimes a matter of gifting beyond natural possession for Kingdom purposes, always intended for the mission and advancement of the Kingdom of God among us.

Discipleship = following Jesus, the process of learning, understanding and obeying His Way; the activity of seeking after higher levels of following while bringing other people to join in the pursuit, life and experience. We are disciples (noun) and are all called to make disciples (verb). We're all discipled to Jesus with each other; we're called to bring along, teach, show and share the journey we are on with anyone willing to join the Way. It's commanded without prerequisite at the culminating speech by Jesus - Go, and while you're going be making disciples everywhere, baptizing them in My Name, teaching them to follow Me in everything I've shown you. There's no mention of gifting associated with fulfilling this function of the Kingdom. It's a universal aspect of Kingdom citizenship: you disciple as you're discipled.

You train leaders and deploy them as they are "ready." Discipleship is a messy-don't-wait-until-it's-baked-get-telling-them-about-Me-now thing. It's desperately necessary, excruciatingly missing in so many parts of the Church (world-wide), rapturously consuming and unstoppably transformational. It's not the cosmic multi-level marketing scheme from On High - it's a flat org chart: there's God then there's us. When it works it's even flatter: it's us IN Him!

The main points that left this discussion:

(1) Discipleship is not an option, a specialization of Christians to be outsourced - it's something we all must do

(2) You can't wait to start...if you know Jesus, then you can start discipling. Your limitation as a disciple-maker is only your discipleship in Christ and with His Body.

(3) Leadership brings responsibility, and where it lacks it must be pursued, grown, refined and advanced.

(4) Act now. Be a disciple, go make disciples and if you're gifted to, called to, required to, unavoidably leading then for the sake of everyone do it diligently to the glory of God!

You can be a good leader and a lousy disciple. You can't be a disciple without discipling and leading by the very definition...because to be a disciple is to obey and follow, which means to grow and influence others to also follow Jesus (which makes you a covert leader).

Have you not read? Leaders Learn - Followers Seek  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

We all have deficits, weaknesses, areas we desire improvement in and then those areas we are eagerly awaiting God's transformational life in. When it comes to skills, tactics and approaches it's amazing how enslaved we can be to routine. We approach things the same way expecting a surprising burst of improved results one day. I heard a definition of insanity that sounded very similar. Yet, so often when someone shares an area of weakness or "needed improvement" and I ask, "What are you doing to grow in that area," I get a blank stare.

Throughout the Bible narratives you find scenes where God or Jesus retort to questions or whining with, "Uh, didn't you read what I said about that years ago? Haven't you heard?" There is this reference to the fact God provides access to so much truth, so much wisdom, so much direction which goes un-utilized as we orbit in our discontentedness. Yet, in the same sense, praise God we are not cemented in our present state and His desire is to change us, grow us, use us, transform us and propel us in ways utterly beyond our ability!

Followers seek after the new and deeper truths of their Master. Leaders are learners if they are truly wise (read Proverbs on that!). Furthermore, leaders diligently steward whatever they're entrusted with. That's why you've heard it said that leaders read - because they always want to keep moving forward, upwards, onwards.

What do you do to raise your capacity, challenge your reference points and deepen your well of resources? Do you read? Engage in intentional dialogue? Do you reach UP seeking ideas and input from folks modeling places you want to go or just down and around?

This year's Leadership Summit will be a great highlight of 2008 for many folks. Hundreds of leaders from scores of churches, businesses, schools and various ministries will gather to sharpen each other, challenge themselves, be inspired...and to just intentionally be with God as they look at things in a fresh way. Some will be rattled to disagree, or to respond to the discontent God's brewed in their soul with need/despair/opportunity, others will be a fresh wind and continue in the course God's planted them...what will you do?

It's so great that we get to host this event. No airfare, no hotel, no nights away from family. Low cost. Local peers to collaborate with and share accountability/encouragement with. World-class caliber material delivered with a focus on the Body of Christ context. Why would we miss it? There will be a kaleidescope of people - pastors, teachers, executives, fire fighters, dads, moms, students, missionaries, bankers, rabbis, and more - all gathered together to grow in their leadership health and capacity to the glory of God for wherever they are at.

If you haven't registered, you can do it today. If you know someone who should go but can't for financial reasons, let me know. If you can't go because of work - then find a means of supplementing it with intentional ways of growing. Read. Learn. Steward with diligence the gifts, hope, Gospel, people and opportunities you've been entrusted with!

Be a Gusher!  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

I worked in a window factory about 8 years ago making custom "poly vinal chloride" (PVC) frames for homes in Alaska. 10 hour days in a factory hand-chiseling detail work and welding windows with a bunch of lost was a great experience. The pride of workers was the sharpness of your chisel and mine were ridiculously sharp. So sharp you could slice your hand and not even feel it until blood rushed from the deep of your flesh implementing an ad-hoc first aid break. I had a number of these incidents, and was amazed at the body's response. Creating a deep puncture into my hand I could literally watch as the sub-dermal blood pressure sent a gushing flow of healthy blood to push all contaminents out of my wound and deliver bio agents for healing. The lifeblood was so constantly streaming that any cut is instantly met with a gushing response.

Saint John H and I were talking this past week. He said he wrestled with knowing when he should be giving people advise and when he should just keep his mouth shut. A good and discerning question - because both have their appropriate time/place. One philosopher said, "It's one thing to be a fool, quite another to give wordy evidence of the fact!" And yet, in Paul's letter to the Christians of Thessolanika he said we have been "entrusted with the Gospel" much like the parable of the ten talents in the Gospels.

My response to John was to keep feasting on the Word of God and meditating on His truths, precepts, Spirit. When talking with someone - if those truths come gushing into your mind, release them. Sometimes God will bring truths to your mind that don't even apply to the topical issue being discussed but it may cut to the very heart of the issue for the other person (that's a form of prophecy). Don't hold back the movement of the Spirit - be a free gusher of truth!

Of course, you have to possess truth to be a gusher of truth. As I mentioned this morning, some of us walk around wielding a butter knife sized truth instead of a full-fledged double-edged sword.

Discipleship involves training in righteousness, speaking of truth, growing in the ways of God. We need to be gushing truth with each other...the moment a wound is encountered the healing rush of God's life should flow out of us to overwhelm the area and prevent infection.

Let's be gushers! Let's drink deeply of the things of God! Cheers!

Promises to Claim as a Disciple  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

"Jesus promised his disciples 3 things: they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble." - G.K. Chesterton

Culture vs Christ - who wins?  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

This issue really transcends foreign missions and comes down to daily living for each of us. As leaders we must also wield the lens of truth in grace to discern what tables need turned over. (click on "Argentina Blog" to read the post)

The Way to Life  

Posted by archie

"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention". Matthew

Wax on. Wax off.
Breath in. Breath out.
Vigorous with Total Attention

Heart Cry of the Disciplines & Evangelism  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

Hosea 6:3 NLT

Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. Then he will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.

Leadership Friction or Traction?  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

An interesting idea posted on another blog this week about how sold-out leadership and sold-out following of Jesus can put in places that have a lot of "friction" (potential for conflict or failure), but they can also be seized to create amazing traction for the advancement of the Kingdom.

I like the gem of a thought.

You can read it here.

What if they don't like it?  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

I was thinking recently about how timid we can be about the Life in/of Christ. Jesus and the Gospel can begin to resemble a life condiment - to be applied sparingly and completely at the liberty of individual taste. Putting the cookies on the bottom shelf is obviously great - Jesus didn't speak in complex dissertations. Yet, when is it about chasing yesterday's fickle whims?

I was reading a church planting guy's blog and he had this post:

I love reading about the Red Bull brand. When they first taste-tested their energy drink, consumers said it was awful. But founder Dietrich Mateschitz defied their opinions and pressed forward with a culture-shaping vision. Even today, half the people who taste Red Bull hate it. But the other half have turned into a cult following. And what a cult following... They've created
an entirely new beverage niche in what is now a $1.3 billion industry.

People vote with their actions, not feedback forms. Howard Schultz put his instincts ahead of the masses and got Starbucks to show for it. Steve Jobs says most people don't even know what they want until you show it to them.

If you're following feedback forms instead of "making tastes" for people, you will always lag behind in innovation. You are responding to culture, not shaping it.

I arrived at this idea in thinking about the spiritual disciplines. I read a number of writings on the subject geared at creating "novel" ways of checking the box of holy pursuits without inconveniencing a previously defined agenda. "How to Pray and Read Your Bible Without Missing American Idol." If you present a discipleship journey that interferes with life as normal, will people like it? Do you want a God, faith or life that wouldn't interrupt "life as usual?"