Leadership style does not mean that the agenda is different. Many leaders today are uncomfortable with the presence of another approach to ministry. It calls for us to observe that all the apostles had different styles in approaching situations and difficulties; yet, the ministry of Jesus was their priority alone. Leadership, just as everyone else, will have to make adjustments as long as leading is on the agenda and in process.
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Developing a Process for Christian LeadersTaking A Close Look At How And Where Developing All Begins ...
By Johnny J. Boudreaux
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Dr. Johnny J. Boudreaux
All right reserved.
Chapter OneOpportunities in Leadership
After graduating from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on December 8, 2000, I received a phone call from the president of The College of Biblical Studies in Houston, Texas, requesting me to consider teaching theology. I was caught off guard and did not know how to respond to such an opportunity. I informed the president that I would think about this opportunity and get back with him as expeditiously as possible. After completing my studies, I had no idea what to do with this degree I had been awarded. The church I had planted was doing fine, but I knew we needed to make some transitions that would take us into the twenty-first century.
The education had not done what I supposed it would do, and I was waiting for the process to begin, not realizing that I was one of the elements needed to engage what I had been equipped with. I had not realized that opportunity begins within the individual.
The seminary had developed a new way of how to identify ministry, but I had overlooked the key ingredient in the transition-me. I had enrolled in the seminary to broaden my understanding about facilitating, communicating, planning, and participating in ministry. Looking at the degree on the wall did not get anything done. I discovered sooner than later that many of those holding the PhD degree were just as lacking in the ministry as the students sitting in the classroom. This was a defining moment.
I had not been in school for about twenty-five years and never imagined it would be such a challenging event. I was introduced to some awesome professors, yet there were some who behaved short of the character of a seminary facilitator. Little did I know education would be a maturing advantage that would define my purpose of engaging in ministry!
Seminary life was not what I imagined it to be as a place of learning. Many leaders had their own agenda, which I never would have expected to exist in such a spiritual place as a Baptist school of learning. Well, leadership does not always evolve in an ideal situation. The seminary does have loving and benevolent people.
I did witness some foolish behaviors of students and professors while in seminary, but it would not change what I experienced in the journey to reach my goal. One professor expressed to the students concerning his/her education, "I have mine, so you get yours." I did not believe this was a correct manner to conduct oneself as a student or the right thing to tell a student as the professor, yet it was a defining moment. Some of the students did not come back after this event because of that statement, but I had made a decision that I was going to take this commitment of mine unto the end. I was awarded with a Master of Divinity degree on December 8, 2000.
After thinking about the opportunity offered, I decided to give an answer to the president about teaching at the college. I returned the call to inform him I would take the challenge. I was then directed to the dean, who did not appear to have any desire for me to teach at the college. I contacted the president, and he informed me that I would be teaching regardless.
I was given an option to develop a five-week class or wait until another semester before allowing him (the dean) to see if there would be a class available for me. I inquired about what the five-week class would require. After some time had gone by with the semester about to start, I was concerned it would be too late. I was then told to develop a lesson plan myself based upon what I had learned in seminary. I had no idea what I would do or how I would approach this challenge. The college at the time was in the early stages of getting accreditation as a four-year institution. They were accredited with an associate degree program and were moving toward a four-year degree program.
It was at this time I reflected upon a book I was reading by J. Oswald Sanders titled Dynamic Spiritual Leadership. It was the word dynamic that drew my attention, and what began to unfold in me is what inspired the writing of this book. The class was designed from the model of those classes I had engaged in while in seminary, only those I believed were led by men of integrity and who made an impact on my ministry. I will not give glory to those who displayed anything less than professionalism, yet I thank God for every one of them. I titled the course Developing Christian Leadership, and it was called that until I left the campus in November of 2005.
The clarity of the title can be productive if everyone is in agreement with what developing means. Many times we come together with people concerning a task they hope to accomplish without knowing the complete story of why they are involved with the assignment. Definition and purpose is important, and anyone in leadership must know that clear communication and instruction are necessary if you plan to be around for a while. The first word in the title was developing; I defined this as training and learning experiences for people of every age group who have already committed and submitted their lives to Jesus Christ, while shaping culture and seeking innovative ways to strengthen their full potential as a Christian leader. Leaders must be willing to invest valuable time, while understanding how to reach this area of their lives. This kind of practice will inspire a life-changing experience among fellow believers, challenging them to anticipate remarkable things from God and being obedient to the call of leadership.
This description may seem like a lot for a definition, but such is the identity of developing. Abraham was not fully developed when God called him to leave his earthly heritage and go toward an unaddressed location called, "I will show you," with a promise of developing him into a great nation with blessings of greatness (Gen. 12:1b). The process was not an overnight thrill but a relationship that gave Abraham his identity. You see, Abraham did not know himself, as he would soon discover. In relationship with others, we discover what God is doing for us. The experience of such relationships will aid us in recognizing our faults and weaknesses.
God's procedure with the life of Abraham before the people enabled Abraham to identify his limitations and effectiveness. Everyone witnessed that God was at work in the life of Abraham and identified his purpose for humanity. Today young people want to be all they can be without realizing they have not seen nothing yet. I realize that the last statement was a bit colloquial, but I am writing to the mass and not the few and selected academicians and working people. One of the many mistakes we engage in is writing to those who are already supposed to know and not to the people who need it the most. I wish to wake up those who are asleep and push those who are just walking along without any urgency whatsoever.
God developed Jacob in a unique manner, while many of us today still call Jacob a con man who would do anything to get ahead. We must take a closer look at the story and see that Jacob did not come to Esau, but Esau came to him. Jacob presented Esau with an option of priority, and Esau made his choice. Esau's value of his heritage was far less than what Jacob saw it to be.
Today many of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ do not have the same value on our heritage that God desires for us to have. Some of us will sell out for meal, just as Esau did. Many today who identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ are selling their heritage for a lotto ticket, puff of crack (generic cocaine), tank of gas, suit of clothing, someone else's husband or wife, or a cup of exotic coffee (not naming any particular brand name). The heritage sale is still going on, and people are selling out. Yet God still has someone He can depend upon.
God's process of Moses was just as special as the other leaders earlier mentioned. Moses did everything he could to get God to use someone else, but God knew what type of leader Moses would become. God understood that developing takes longer in some then in others, and that His message to the people would be in different procedures and languages.
The actions taken by Moses were lessons within themselves. His display before the people was evidence of God's presence. Moses' confrontations with the people were the relationships God intended for them to engage in and experience. These incidents convinced the people and their children of who God is and His supernatural being of integrity.
Leaders' opportunities appear when they are obedient to God, and they are assured He will be present with them (Matt. 28:20b), not just because He said it, but also because He has proven He will repeatedly. The evidence and facts confirm to everyone that the development of leaders is an ongoing process. Leadership has always been on the agenda of God. Man's submission to God requires him to listen for a word from the Lord. Relationship will display the presence of God's influence upon our lives. The development of believers requires them to represent God in all their relationships. Today if relationship is a sign of God's presence, we have fallen back and do not appear to be gaining ground. What is unusual about the followers of Jesus Christ is that everything about leadership is all right until we get to the area of submitting.
The desire to be the leader who would be pleasing to people is more of a political stance rather than being followers of Jesus Christ. Christian leaders' goals should not be to inspire or please man first; their motive should be to please God. Many of the evangelical associations all over the world are attempting to please the people first and not the Lord. The idea that a board of directors can make rules that please a group of people and not be established in the word and work of the creator is not an impressive procedure to God at all.
Good leaders are not what God is looking for; He is looking for obedient leaders who will put Him first at all costs. Samuel tells Saul, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams" (1 Sam. 15:22).
The leaders God has chosen to deliver His people would not be on many of our lists as eligible participants, yet they are our heroes today. Who would use the twelve men chosen by Jesus to be trainees? Yet, Jesus chose them without hesitation, just as humanity today is worthy of leading because we have been made in the image of God. The fact that man today seems to be reluctant to reflect back to understand and accept what God has done is confusing.
How can humanity assume that some of their fellow men and women are among us? How can leaders believe that if you come from a certain school, you are of a leader? Leaders are called; they are not born fully developed. To have such a worldview of measuring leadership is what is causing us to be behind today. God calls leaders, not the proficiency of man! No one can ever take the responsibility of making leaders; just mentor them by facilitating and teaching.
Michael D. Miller said, "God never calls a person to leadership without gifting that person for that specific task" (Kingdom Leadership, 35). Christian leadership is the influence of God-nothing more, nothing less. This happens when men and women step into the dreams (desires) of God for our future and develop them into realities by moving toward God's agenda. I remember this clearly from one of my professors while in seminary, not realizing that the transition in my life had already begun. Writing this book is not something I desired to do from the beginning; I quickly realized that there were men and women alike who do not believe they could do such a thing as enrolling in a seminary, which would prepare them for ministry.
Let me make this known now; I had been pasturing a church for about ten years before I gave any attention to the fact that I needed help. I had done well up until then, according to everyone's expectation around me, but I still was uncomfortable about my leadership skills. My ministry was challenged after four years in leadership of a church. The challenge of a lifetime introduced itself, along with controversy and conflict.
I was not experienced with conflict of this nature and capacity. When challenged before, I took care of the matter my way. I had not done anything wrong. The church had increased in number and finances. My behavior was spotless. I was not dating someone's wife or daughter and married. I behaved in a manner I wished others to behave in. I led by example to the point where I instructed the church family to do what I do and if I saw anything wrong with that, I would first make the change before I instructed them to.
(I do not want any of this to be painted)
Membership multiplied, finances increased, and land was purchased, and nearly all the officers, only one of whom was active in supporting at the time, were encouraged to support the church in giving. The church was moving toward where God wanted them to be. Many of the officers who were encouraged to give did not like it, and this was one of the principles they were not pleased with me about. I was sure I was getting out of the ministry until two elder pastors encouraged me to listen to God's reply. Developing a leader is not an overnight episode; developing is a lifetime journey.
I was defined as one who did not listen. Regardless of if you are right or wrong, as a leader we must listen to the cry of the people. Allowing the people to voice their opinions will give the leader more room for instruction and consulting. Every effective leader must be a listener. Sometimes what you have to listen to will be questionable, but we must be a good listener. I forget which professor I had that said this, "Leaders are reflectors that are in ministry for the long run while balancing growth with quality. They are the Axioms (Universally accepted principle or rules) of God's will for men (Eph. 5:1)."
Leaders are not born with everything they need; they are equipped to recognize what gifts they have and how to best use them in the service they are called to. These leaders are committed individuals who are eager to spend time dedicated to expanding their relationship with the Lord, His people, and encouraging others to do the same, while seeking practical ways of sharing their faith.
John R. W. Stoot is a brilliant writer, and I have always been excited to read what he has to say about leadership. He wrote?\:
Among the followers of Jesus, therefore, leadership is not a synonym forlordship. Our calling is to be servants not bosses, slaves not masters. True, a certain authority attaches to all leaders, and leadership would be impossible without it. The apostles were given authority by Jesus, and they exercised it in both teaching and disciplining the church. Even Christian pastors today, although they are not apostles and do not possess apostolic authority, are to be "respected" because of their position "over" the congregation (1 Thessalonians 5:12), and even "obeyed" (Hebrews 13:17). Yet the emphasis of Jesus was not on the authority of a ruler-leader but on the humility of a servant-leader. The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serves (Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today, 375).
This paragraph depicts the standards for leadership, which includes leaders being held to a higher standard. Leaders who have waited for God to move in their lives will be able to witness to others how wonderful a relationship with God can be if they trust Him. Most leaders do not like waiting, but the humbling experience of doing so will give meaning to facilitating and mentoring people. Developing physically takes only months of training, but developing spiritually is a lifetime expedition. The great evangelist Paul said, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me" (Phil. 3:12).
Excerpted from Developing a Process for Christian Leaders by Johnny J. Boudreaux Copyright © 2010 by Dr. Johnny J. Boudreaux. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Opportunities in Leadership....................7
Chapter 2 Changing the Atmosphere: A Leader's Lifestyle....................21
Chapter 3 The Process....................33
Chapter 4 The Strange Land Experience....................43
Chapter 5 Measuring Success....................55
Chapter 6 Leadership Development....................65
Chapter 7 The Leader and Church Responsibility....................75
Chapter 8 Diversity and Relationships....................83
Chapter 9 Are Leaders Struggling to Change the People or God?....................91
Chapter 10 Compromised Leadership....................97