Your best, most fruitful decade of your life will be in your 60’s. Your second most fruitful decade will be in your 70’s. Your third will be in your 50’s. How might that perspective change your priorities today? I know you are in a rush. God is not. His kingdom really is like a mustard seed. It starts out insignificant, powerless, apparently defeated, and marked by suffering and death. It appears nothing is happening. It is almost imperceptible. We want the glory of Rome, Athens, Corinth, and Ephesus. And we want it now! Jesus didn’t build quickly. He chose 12 country bumpkins from Galilee. One didn’t work out. He was not in a rush.
Bruce Gangnier’s sculpture of Moses Striking the Rock captures the one of the great temptations of leadership. Moses was commanded by God to speak to the rock so his “church” (2-3 million strong) might have water to drink. Instead, out of great frustration and anger, he struck the rock twice with his staff (Numbers 20:7-12). Moses never sees the Promised Land. Many of us miss the joy and peace of leading others in Jesus’ name (our Promised Land) because we are anxious, fearful, angry, frustrated and tired. The people get their water, as the Israelites did, but we pay a steep price. I have struck the rock more times than I want to count. Why? There are 2 temptations: 1. To build our own kingdom. We become unsure if we can trust God to grow our churches. So we help Him along, initiating programs and ministries to move the church along without consulting Him. 2. To force things because. Read more.
Patience is a form of wisdom. Some things must unfold in their time. A child that rushes a baby chick to hatch ultimately kills it. The straining and process of birthing is God’s way to prepare the chick to survive into adulthood. In the same way, God rewires and forms us into our true selves in Christ, burning out that which does not belong to Him, through our slow sufferings and struggles. God’s process cannot be hurried. As Rilke says: “Have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart, and try to cherish the questions themselves. Perhaps one day… gradually… you will live right into the answer.” Move towards your goals, but with a sacred patience. Prayerfully ponder the questions to which you have no answers. He will lead you into the answers.
After another couple of weeks of pondering and passing this around our staff team for a second round of discussions, here is a second, more precise listings of our learnings. This is a living document, borne out of twenty-one years of labor, mistakes, and fruitful suffering. For this reason, I am prayerfully re-reading these lessons with a healthy reverence before God. 1. Character is more important than gifting. The power of God really is made perfect in our weaknesses. When we have overlooked issues of character, and humility in particular, we have paid a price. 2. Do not rush. When decisions were made quickly, without pausing to pray, think and proces implications, we have had regrets. Seeing the Promised Land without seeing the pillar of cloud and fire is foolishness. 3. Leaders need to take responsibility and initiative for their own growth and development. As leaders invest time in personal growth and development, they shape all those who look. Read more.
Last week we did an exercise listing our “Turning Point Lessons” out of our twenty-one year history. The following are my edits and summary out of that discussion. Character is more important than gifting. Being is more important than doing. When we have overlooked issues of character because of anointing, effectiveness, leadership abilities, etc., we have always paid a price. Don’t rush. When decisions were made quickly, without pausing to pray, think and process implications, we have had regrets. Seeing the Promised Land is one thing. The pillar of cloud and fire saying it is time to go in is another. Leaders need to take responsibility for their growth and development. My journey, along with Geri’s, has had a profound impact on NLF. As we invest time in our personal growth and development, we are shaping all those who look to us for leadership. A clear, differentiated vision results in a unified leadership and. Read more.