Like a Shepherd Lead Us

When I wrote a previous post, talking about leaders as shepherds, I was reminded of this hymn.  The writer is unknown, but it first appeared in a children’s hymnal compiled by Dorothy Thrump  in 1832;  turns out adults like it, too.  The words are clearly inspired by the 23rd Psalm, and Christ’s words in the 10th chapter of John:  “I am the good shepherd.”

An interesting story about  how this hymn saved a life was reported by Ira Stankey,, a musician who worked closely with Dwight Moody.  Follow the link below if you would like to read it:

https://www.sermonwriter.com/hymn-stories/savior-like-shepherd-lead-us/

Then enjoy this one, as I do!

 

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MBWA?

Our life is full of acronyms and I’m going to teach you  a new one. We learned this from the recent CD that the Fanning the Flame team reviewed together.   MBWA = Ministry By Walking Around.  What does this mean?  Well, leaders must be visible and accessible.  You’ve heard of managers having an “open door policy”?  This takes it a step further.  Leaders must go out and mingle with their followers;  they must hear what they have to say;  they must know what’s going on in their lives;  they must be aware of their strengths and weaknesses.  This develops relationships and trust.  It helps the leader accurately access where his followers are now and how to guide them to the place he wants them to be.

Maybe that’s why Jesus is sometimes called our shepherd.  A shepherd lives with the sheep:  he knows them and they know him.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Sheep trust their shepherd — they are willing to go where he leads because they have learned that he has their best interests at heart.

In our church, I notice my husband, the Pastor, doing some of this MBWA.  Every Sunday he is in the sanctuary early to meet people as they come in.  He takes time to ask them how things are going, and take prayer requests for the service.  Even if he is not working at a particular congregational event, he tries to spend some time just being there.  He often chats with people when they stop by the church during the week to do some chore or drop something off.  I have also learned the value of just taking an interest in the hobbies or interests of others.  It goes a long way toward building friendships.

Woody Allen once said, 80% of success is just showing up.  There’s some truth in that.  If you’re in a leadership position, do you show up?  It’s a good question to ponder and pray about.

 

What Are Those Church Leaders Doing?

I remember years ago, a friend at our church told me that as a child, he had no idea that so many chores that went into keeping the church in good condition.  He just showed up on Sundays and found everything working and in the right place, just as it should be.  Then he grew up and became the Property Chairman — what a shock to learn that someone (and usually more than one someone) was constantly working to be sure that happened.  So, if you’re a new Christian, or even the member of a large church, you may not be aware of exactly what those church leaders are doing every month or week to make your experience of worship, fellowship and Christian education a good one.

Here are some of the things different members of our Church Council do:  they attend monthly meetings;  they manage the church’s money — that means making deposits, record keeping and preparing a budget;  if something breaks down, they fix it or hire someone who can;  they may have to get estimates for needed work;  they do routine maintenance around the church;  they get the snow shoveled;  they schedule events;  they keep minutes of every meeting;  and more.

The Board of Elders help the Pastor with visiting and staying in touch with those who are ill or shut in;  they contact inactive members;  they help with planning worship services;  they pray for the whole congregation.  They make sure that worship continues when the Pastor is ill or on vacation

Then there are Sunday School teachers who plan lessons and review educational materials;  women’s leaders who provide food for fellowship luncheons;  the list could go on and on.

All of these people are volunteers.  They do these things for Jesus and for others. They spend their time, and often money, to keep the church running smoothly. They deserve our gratitude and appreciation, but often their efforts are ignored, or worse yet, criticized.

There are many easy ways to encourage our church leaders.  I still remember the person who thanked me for serving on the church council!  That’s all it takes to make someone’s day.  Send a note, make a call, ask what you can do to help your church  or just show up.  Tell them you pray for them every day, and then do it!  You don’t have to be a leader to help your leaders.  Your efforts will be appreciated more than you know.

Servant Leadership

“So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men.” Genesis 24:59

Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse died and was buried under the oak below Bethel.  So it was named Allon Bacuth (oak of weeping).”  Genesis 35:8

When I was a pilgrim on my first Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend, I was quite excited to be assigned to sit at the table of Deborah.  After all, everyone has heard of Deborah, right?  Deborah, the warrior, Deborah, the woman who was famous as a leader in a patriarchal society.  What a role model!  Who wouldn’t be honored to sit at her table?

However, my bubble was burst when I read the name card on the center of our table more closely.  I discovered that I was not sitting at the table of Deborah the judge–I was sitting at the table of Deborah, the nursemaid.  You probably don’t even know who she is — I didn’t.  She is mentioned only twice in the Bible, and only once by name.  Frankly, I was disappointed.  I resolved that secretly, I would continue to think of my table as the table of Deborah the judge.

In the years since my weekend, I’ve had time to rethink that position.  I’ve read the two references to Deborah and what comes between them.  Do you realize that Deborah served Rebekah and her family for over eighty years?  She must have been greatly loved and greatly mourned for her death to be noted at all.  She was buried with honor under a venerable oak, symbol of long life.

When I think about it, I realize that as a leader, I’m a lot more like Deborah the nursemaid than Deborah the judge–in fact most Christians are.  We may not be famous, but we can be faithful servants and examples to those around us.

Luther on Leadership edited by David D. Cook—Book Review

This book was published in 2017 amid a plethora of Luther books due to 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  Unlike many books that focus on Luther’s legacy, life and theology, this one takes a different approach:  what can we learn from Martin Luther’s leadership style?

Nobody can deny that great change came as a result of Luther’s convictions and his life.  Here is a quote from the book:

The legacy of any leader can be measured by the positive change he cements
in his own organization, nation, or culture. While many leaders
across the millennia have created change in their society, few have caused such
broad-based change as Martin Luther. Someone surveying Europe in 1600
would have found a cultural milieu that was markedly different than what
was present just a hundred years before, in 1500. For a society that had not
changed markedly in a thousand years, the seismic shift that Luther brought
in the span of a few decades was remarkable. From the church, to government,
law, education, and economics, the hue of society was drastically different because
of the leadership of Martin Luther and his fellow Reformers.

What was it that made Luther such an effective leader?  This is the question the book sets out to answer.

The first section does review Luther’s life and legacy.  For the Lutherans among our readers, this may be a review of facts they already know.  The second deals with different modern models of leadership, comparing Luther to these models.  Each section is written by a different author.  Topics covered include:

  • Luther as a change agent
  • Luther as an adaptive leader
  • Luther as a transformational leader
  • Luther as a pastoral leader
  • Luther as a servant leader

I found this book interesting and readable.  It is well written, clear and while referring to many academic models of leadership does not bog down in academic terms that lose the average lay person.  I came away with a better sense of Luther as a leader we can learn from today.  While his circumstances and personality were unique, all church leaders can learn from his dedication to Biblical truth as well as his ability to communicate his vision to followers and energize them for God’s work.

Verdict:  I was given a pdf copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a blog review.  I give it five stars.  Ask your Pastor to add it to the church library!  For ordering information follow the link below:

https://wipfandstock.com/luther-on-leadership.html

 

The Spiritual Gift of Leadership

As part of our Fanning the Flame process, all team members (and eventually all of our congregation) will be offered the opportunity to do a spiritual gifts assessment.  Leadership is a spiritual gift, and in this month of exploring leaders, I thought everyone would benefit from having the following definition which was provided as part of our material.  After reading this, do you think you may have the spiritual gift of leadership?

 

LEADERSHIP

 

Literal Meaning: To stand before

 

Description: The gift of leadership is the special ability that God gives to certain members of  the Body of Christ to set goals in accordance with God’s purpose for the future and to communicate those goals to others in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to accomplish those goals for the glory of God.

 

Distinctives:

  1.     Provide direction for God’s people or ministry                                                                                                2.
  2.     Model the values of the ministry
  3.     Take responsibility and establish goals
  4.     Motivate others to perform to the best of their abilities
  5.     Present the big picture for others to see

 

 

Traits: Cautions:
q     Influential q     Should realize their relational credibility takes time
q     Diligent        and is critical for leadership effectiveness
q     Visionary q     Should remember that servant leadership is
q     Trustworthy        biblical model, the greatest being the servant of all
q     Persuasive q        Do not need to be in a leadership “position” to use  this gift
q     Motivating
q     Goal setter

 

References: Acts 15:7-12; Romans 12:8; I Timothy 5:17

Good Leaders Accept Help

“O, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and tongue….please send someone else.”  Exodus 4:10 & 13

Moses, probably the greatest leader in the Old Testament recognized his limitations.  He admitted that he was not good at everything.  He asked God to remove the burden of leadership from him.  Instead, God directs him to a helper, someone with the gift he lacks.

“Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite?  I know that he can speak well. … He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth …” Exodus 4:14-15

Later on, Moses encounters a different problem — time management.  As leader, he is dealing with so many small problems, he can’t get to the bigger ones.  This time, it is his father-in-law, Jethro who gives the advice to delegate.

“Look for able men from all he people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe;  and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.  And let them judge the people at all times.  Every great matter they shall decide themselves.  So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.”  Exodus 18:21-22

Likewise, in the book of Acts, the twelve apostles found they could not meet all the needs of the growing church.  Some widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food.

“Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

We can’t expect our leaders to go it alone.  Good leaders recognize the spiritual gifts of others and they learn to delegate and train.  Maybe the greatest talent of good leaders is to recognize and cultivate the skills of the people around them.

I can see this in my own life.  Leadership is not my strongest spiritual gift, but I have found myself in situations when I am called to lead.  When this happens I know that I need someone with the gift of administration as a strong #2 — I see the goal, but not always the steps that need to be taken to get there.  I also need people with the gift of service — the ones who can just see a task that needs doing, and jump it to take care of it.  For me, leadership is all about assembling the right team–a group who can work together and accomplish great things.

What about you?  What can you do well, and what do you need to delegate?  I’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming post on spiritual gifts.