The world may minimize, rationalize, deny, or medicate their losses, but God calls us to a different path in the new family of Jesus. Simply put, grieving well is a core discipleship issue – especially for those of us who lead. Consider a few of the great men and women in Scripture who were great grievers and great leaders: Isaiah, Hannah, Jeremiah, Moses, Mary, Paul, Peter, and most importantly, Jesus. Unless we courageously allow our losses to break open our hard hearts, we will project or inflict our unprocessed pain on others. But if we follow God’s pathway for us – paying careful attention to our pain, waiting with him in the confusing-in-between, and letting the old birth the new – we experience a stripping away of our false selves in order to become the new men and women we were truly meant to be. We move from spiritual babies with an incessant need. Read more.
I have spent a long, relaxed time in the Sermon on the Mount over the last seven months, meditating and studying what may be the greatest sermon ever delivered in human history. The radical nature of discipleship, as laid out by Jesus, has shaken me to my core and reminded me of Karl Barth’s famous dictum: We are always only beginners. Jesus ends Matthew chapter 5 in verse 48 with the words: Be perfect (i.e. perfectly mature) as your heavenly Father is perfect (i.e. perfectly mature). The word for perfect refers to a person coming of age, someone who is no longer a child or minor. They are now adults, i.e. spiritually mature. The question I have asked myself is: Am I really a spiritually mature adult according to Jesus’ standard? In chapter 5:17-47, Jesus describes the qualities of spiritual maturity. They are a challenge, to say the least. In this podcast I explore. Read more.
To quit overfunctioning is foundational to our leadership. In fact, unless we take up this biblical challenge, it will be nearly impossible to raise up healthy, biblical communities that effectively engage the world with the gospel and deeply transform lives. Overfunctioning can be defined as: doing for others what they can and should do for themselves. This is a key task for every leader that requires discernment, courage, and at times, wise counsel from others. The following four realities motivate us to make this a regular topic for prayerful discernment: Overfunctioning perpetuates immaturity. In Exodus 18, Moses mistakenly believed his self-sacrifice was serving the people. Moses became the largest obstacle, the bottleneck to the people’s growth and maturity. In Numbers 11, the Israelites demanded a rescue from their pain. Moses accepted the role. In doing so, he ensured their continued immature behavior. Overfunctioning prevents us from focusing on God’s unique call for our own. Read more.
For years I wondered, “How is Christian planning and decision-making different? How do I safeguard we are “carrying out plans” that are God’s and not our own (Isaiah 30:1)? The integration of the word Christian with planning and decision-making was much more challenging than I imagined. Health is best measured on a continuum. Use this brief assessment to get an idea of where you are today. Next to each statement, write down the number that best describes your response. Use the following scale: 5 = Always true of me 4 = Frequently true of me 3 = Occasionally true of me 2 = Rarely true of me 1 = Never true of me _____ 1. Discernment and the doing of God’s will is my most important work as a leader. _____ 2. I am acutely aware of the temptation to pursue more opportunities than God intends because of my own shadow or the pressure. Read more.
Just as Jesus lived in a relaxed, loving union with the Father, we are invited to a similar relationship with him. “If you remain in me as I remain in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). He promises that if we do this, “fruit” always follows. Jesus doesn’t say that we cannot do things without him. He doesn’t say that we can’t lead or build a ministry without him. He does say that, unless these behaviors flow out of a relationship of loving union with him, they are worth nothing. I name God’s invitation to us loving union. Love captures the way we remain. Union speaks to the depth of the connection. It is helpful to think of the level of our loving union on a continuum that ranges from 1-10. Use the brief assessment that follows to get an idea of where you fall on. Read more.