Monthly Archives: August 2015

Lead Explored: Setting Direction

From passages like Luke 4:18-19, 19:10 and John 17:4 we can conclude that Jesus was a man with a clear direction—provide for salvation, model righteous living, and train men to advance the Gospel and His Kingdom. During the three years of His life that we know most about, Jesus lived His set direction. Observing His relationship with His Disciples, He intentionally nurtured their awareness of this direction. And, during the week before His death as well as the days before His Ascension, He commissioned His followers with their set direction.

Leading by setting direction and helping others discern and confirm their part in the direction was important for Jesus and should be for all leaders. Direction setting involves at least three components: clarifying where to go, why go there, and what it could look like upon arrival

1. Where to go? For the Christ-follower, no factor is more important than hearing from God. Jesus made it clear that His direction was set by the Father (John 5:19, 30; 13:3-4)—He did not set the direction Himself. What does this say to us?

In my earlier days I was very “ambitious for God.” In fact, I designed a recruitment brochure by that title to attract ambitious people to join the cause of missions. It happens more often than not for a person, a group, or an organization to use their best individual or combined understanding is to set a direction for God. But, God does not need our direction! Like with Jesus, one has already been set. Our challenge is to discern the direction He has set for our community and us.

In the direction-discernment process we can assume that God wants us to use the minds and heart He gave us as our guide. Apart from some dramatic revelation, God expects us to do our research to gain accurate and relevant data. A direction is only as good as the information you base it upon. He also impresses upon our hearts a longing to make a difference. By listening with “emotional ears” we can find confirmation of where He is leading us.

I am reminded of how one great missionary statesman sensed God’s direction for him and what would become a fundamental principle of the mission he founded. On June 25, 1865, James Hudson Taylor was walking a beach near Brighton, England. His mind was overwhelmed by the spiritual needs he saw firsthand during his first decade in China. His heart was overwhelmed by how British worshippers were oblivious to the plight of millions of Chinese people. While struggling to discern God’s direction he later recorded:

“There the Lord conquered my unbelief, and I surrendered myself to God for this service. I told him that all responsibility as to the issues and consequences must rest with him; that as his servant it was mine to obey and to follow him—his to direct, to care for, and to guide me and those who might labor with me…”

2. Why go there? Once the direction is clear the only reason worth pursuing it is for God to receive the glory that is due Him. Lesser motives abound such as some great need, a longing to please God, a desire for adventure, among others. These will never sustain the rigors that come with the pursuit of God’s direction. Leaders must frequently remind themselves and their followers of why God’s direction is worth our dedication.

3.  What could it look like upon arrival? If we accurately discern His direction and move with proper motives, we can expect His enabling to accomplish the outcome that honors Him. Again, it was Hudson Taylor who lived his belief: “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” Since God’s thoughts and ways are not ours, what it looks like when we arrive at the destination will be adjusted from our initial vision. And just like God, it will be above and beyond all that we could ask or think!

How confident are you that the direction you are leading is God’s direction? If confident, how well are you living and communicating this direction? Setting direction is a first step in leading like Jesus.

Next Blog: Aligning Resources







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Leading Like Jesus

This new series of blogs will address the first function in our Navigator Core Model of Living and Leading like Jesus—to LEAD. The definition used for leading well is to intentionally influence and enable people to accomplish a given task. The words in this definition will be highlighted in subsequent blogs. A key principle to keep in mind is that every Christ-Centered leader should ensure that those one serve are being led well.

Like the Disciples of old, followers of Jesus today should give focused attention to understand how Jesus led. Leaders should then seek to follow His model if for no other reason than Jesus’ leadership has stood the test of time and influence. If there were more Jesus-style leaders today many social, economic and health-related challenges would have alternative solutions.

Why are there not more such leaders? I suggest that the cost is too high! Jesus said that His kind of leading is sacrificial—and not in comfortable ways. Humble sacrifice is not generally modeled in businesses or churches or Christian organizations. Nevertheless, as the Holy Spirit progressively transforms followers of Jesus into His image we cannot help but learn to lead like Him.

So, what is the Holy Spirit seeking to produce in a person when it comes to leading like Jesus? The only firm foundation for effective leadership is valuing and nurturing heart transformation through the fruit of the Spirit. Without an internal sense of conviction and integration with biblical values, the practice of leading will always fall short of influence and impact. The last blog was devoted to the topic of heart transformation and, although worthy of much more focus, this series will transition to the core responsibilities of a leader.

Leadership is multi-faceted. Of the many possible functions of leading well, four overarching responsibilities are prominent (under which most other responsibilities can find a home). These four functions will be explored in subsequent blogs: setting direction, aligning resources, inspiring and motivating, and managing people.

1. Jesus came and lived for a purpose—to glorify the Father by providing for the salvation of mankind, modeling how to live a life pleasing to God, and training a band of men who would in turn lead a movement. He had a clear sense of direction and set it.

2. Jesus never made a big deal of finances (where we normally default when thinking about resources) in His teaching of the Disciples. What He did make a big deal about was knowing the available resources and stewarding them well. In order to align resources to strategic needs, one must value the inventory.

3. In three years Jesus was able to recruit a band of men and women who so believed in Him and His message that they were willing (and many did) to die for Him and His great cause. He had amazing ability to influence through inspiration and motivation—something every leader must understand and live regardless of natural talents or lack thereof.

4. It has been observed that Jesus never asked His Disciples to do something they had not already been prepared to do through watching His life or understanding His teaching. For people to thrive they must be managed well. Management or supervision can either be empowering, abusing, or neglecting by assuming that people will figure out success on their own.

As the LEAD function of Jesus-style leadership is explored only the surface will be scratched. Hopefully, the scratching will reveal an easy to remember outline and uncover a rich arena for further study.

Next Blog: Setting Direction



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