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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What is Leadership?

I have had a great week, and it's only Wednesday! On Monday I finished launching eleven summer interns into ten-week ministry projects that are located from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and then coached a team leader in the Midwest who is guiding a ten-member national team doing social media and all forms of digital communication. On Tuesday I met for several hours with a married couple who are co-pastoring a 108 year-old church in Los Angeles that they just moved to... The church started as historically Anglo, and now has three different services meeting on campus every Sunday: one in Spanish, one in English and one in both Cantonese and Mandarin! Today I met with a woman who is mentoring youth pastors all over the Los Angeles area, and then met on Skype with two pastors in Seattle area.

The ages of these people range from 20 to 45, but they all have one thing in common: they are leaders. I love identifying, raising up, training and walking alongside such leaders. Not only does it bless me to hear about their ministries and challenges; it also keeps me sharp in my own learning and growth.

Despite years of experience, I know I still have much to learn. So I am a sponge for all manner of books, articles, seminars and wise mentors. But last night I was reminded that Jesus is still my best teacher. In our home group we spent some time reading through Luke 9:1-17, where Jesus sends out the disciples to start learning how to minister. As it says in the opening lines, he "gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal." Sheesh -- no big deal, right?

After reading this passage on our own and sharing our impressions in our study, one person pointed out something I had failed to notice, that really blew my mind... she noted how the disciples are described in the whole section:

  • Vs. 1: "Then Jesus called the twelve together..."
  • Vs. 10: "On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done."
  • Vs. 12: "The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him..."
  • Vs. 14: "And he said to his disciples..."
It is important to read through the passage yourself to see what happens, but in a nutshell: the twelve are sent out to extend the ministry of Jesus by casting out demons, healing diseases and proclaiming the kingdom of God; the apostles come back with glowing reports of what happened; the twelve are tired after a long day and want the crowds of thousands to be sent away; and the disciples are schooled in what it means to truly care for people.

It would be fun to really dig in and do some extended word study on each term. I do know that the "apostles" are the "sent ones," and the "disciples" are "learners" or "pupils." In our group we enjoyed seeing the arc of the disciples' leadership development in a very short span of time -- they went from being empowered and sent out to being humbled and needing to learn... again and again and again.

I'm here to report that, through repeated trial and error, I have discovered that this cycle will never end! As we grow in faith we are empowered and sent out, but we will stumble and trip as we go. The question is not if, but when

Surround yourself with people who want to be apostles and disciples. Learn from them, learn with them. And study the life of Jesus together for the best training possible. 

(For further study and learning, I have also grown from the pursuit of spiritual disciplines. Here is a set of articles on the twelve classic spiritual disciplines that I wrote last year...)

1 comment:

  1. " they went from being empowered and sent out to being humbled and needing to learn... again and again and again." I love this observation as an answer to your question, "What is leadership?" It's knowing and acting on the fact that we're called/empowered but also knowing and acting on the fact that we're in desperate and constant need of Teaching from the Teacher. So good. Thanks for saying it so clearly, Kelly!