Jesus-shaped Leaders – The 5 ‘C’s: Part 5 (by Manik Corea)

We have come to the last ‘C’ of ‘Jesus-shaped Leadership.’ Last week, we looked at ‘Competence’ – the need to develop life-skills, gifting and ability so that we can become the effective, Christ-like leaders Jesus desires us to be.

To tie together all the preceding requirements for raising healthy and multiplying leaders, I would like to end with the word ‘Commitment’. Christian leadership is akin to a marathon, and we must prepare leaders for the long-haul.

Year ago at school, I trialed in the heats of a 1.5km long-distance race. The winners would complete in the annual school Sports Day. In my mind, I had the perfect strategy to win – lead from the front all the way to the end.

When the race started, I shot to the front, while everyone else paced themselves slowly for first of the four laps round the track. I built up a commanding lead and was way out in front. During the second lap however, fatigue caught up with me. So did everyone else! I began to fall behind and by the end, I was in last position. I gave up the race by the middle of the third lap, slinking away to cower in embarrassment in the stands. I had learnt a valuable lesson the hard way: it is easier to start a race then complete it.

Jesus-shaped leaders are called to last the distance and to finish the race of faith He has started us on.

Seeking to be, and to raise leaders who are shaped by the call and Spirit of Jesus, will demand our total commitment. This is in any case, engendered in the call to consistent and genuine discipleship.

We see this for example in the Lukan version of the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-15). When Jesus elaborates on the good soil that yielded a hundredfold harvest, He spoke of those who ‘hold fast to the word in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.’ Only in Luke do we see Jesus explain that disciples who are receptive of His Word and gospel will ‘bear fruit in patience.’ (Though this is certainly implied in other synoptic gospels in the idea of the growth to harvest from seed to fruit.)

In Luke 9:23, Jesus states that carrying the cross and following Him is a daily affair. Consistency is called for and there are no quick 3-step process to becoming fruit-bearing, multiplying disciples. It is a daily call and vocation.

Neither can you become a Jesus-shaped leader in a day. Or produce such.

God is patient with us, and we must be with each other. This being and becoming servant leaders is a life-term project. And it will require us to be pruned for greater growth and to be trained by trials and temptations. We must develop a perspective that is eternal, not temporary; kingdom-of-God-centered, not worldly; glorifying to God, not pleasing to self.

For all this, we need to learn to have patience, perseverance and endurance. Scripture is replete with calls for the patient endurance of faith and its development in time and trial (see Romans 5:3-4; Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 12:1-2; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7; Revelation 1:9).

Leadership, like discipleship, takes the long-term view of life. It will be in the words of nihilistic philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘a long obedience in the same direction.’[1]

Being a leader in God’s church is not easy thing. It is demanding – carrying with it the responsibilities concomitant with the particular level of influence and gifting. Jesus stated this clearly in his maxim, ‘To whom much is given, much will be required.’ (Luke 12:48).

And such leadership will demand a commitment and perseverance that is a necessary pre-condition for bearing much fruit in the Kingdom of God. Let us then seek above all to be, and to raise, committed leaders called to run the race with patience and endurance, by God’s grace.

In the last weeks, we have seen then that these 5 ‘C’s together characterize Jesus-shaped leadership. Such leaders, in summary, are to be 1) Called by God, 2) transformed in their Character by Him, 3) filled with His anointing Charism, 4) growing in greater Competency as leaders and 5) remaining steadfast and Committed to a way of life that glorifies Him.

By His power and grace alone, so let us lead.

 

[1] Section five of Nietzsche’s book ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ (Gutenberg.)

 

 

 

 

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Jesus-shaped Leaders – The 5 ‘C’s: Part 5 (by Manik Corea)

Jesus-shaped Leaders – The 5 ‘C’s: Part 4 (by Manik Corea)

We are into the 4th of our series on what I’m calling the 5 ‘C’s of Christian leadership. Thus far, we have seen that healthy Christian leadership is dependent on the call of God, the character of the individual and the charism (gift) of the Holy Spirit. Today, we look at Competence – or the skills or abilities that are required to be effective leaders in God’s kingdom, and the method Jesus used to develop the skills and competency of his disciples.

In 2012, my wife and I began the planting of a NAMS base community in Bangkok, Thailand called All Nations. The year before, I had a vivid dream. We were at a NAMS training event. At the end of the meeting, I was sat with a bunch of Asian looking people, talking about starting this new disciple-making community. In the dream, I said that learning to follow Jesus is more ‘caught than taught.’ I also remember distinctively telling them: ”We teach by doing, we do by teaching’. And then I woke up.

When I reflected and prayed about it, I felt the Lord reveal that our base community must model and make disciples. ‘Being with’ would lead to ‘becoming like’.

NAMS bases are to be places where people get infected by the discipleship-virus of Jesus, and become contagious. But they will only learn from what they see us doing, and we can only get people to do by us showing and training them. And this will involved raising competent leaders with us.

‘Show and tell’ then, is not just for school children – it has kingdom implications.

Jesus’ way of developing competent leaders was a call for his disciples to be where he was (Mark 3:14). Jesus’ school of discipleship was no theoretical study in a controlled environment. It was life lived at large. His disciples had front-row seats of the Master at work: watching him, interacting with and assisting him. Jesus would demonstrate, discuss, train, give assignments, debrief and retreat with, and ultimately commission his disciples to the same work as Him.

Jesus had an end-vision for us that sees further than we can. Indeed, he called his disciples on the basis not of who they were, but what he intended them to be.

The first and the last recorded words that Jesus spoke to Peter were the same: ‘Follow me.’[1] Post-resurrection, he assures the crest-fallen thrice-denying Peter, that he was still called to feed and care for the Lord’s lambs and sheep. Jesus saw beyond Peter’s failures in the past to what he intended by the Spirit’s power for Peter to become.

And we, like Peter, must keep your eyes on Jesus.

Discipleship and leadership in God’s kingdom is always relational and particular. This means we cannot cookie-cut and mass produce either. Each one is uniquely called, gifted and therefore to be trained and deployed. But the process of discovering and honing those spiritual gifts and abilities require the being in community and under authority of godly leadership.

Like Jesus, we will identify a few people we intentionally spend our lives with. Of them, we might just have one or three (Jesus had James, John and Peter) that we specially and specifically mentor for more focused leadership development. There are seasons for intentional mentoring and calling some aside. I have been blessed and grown so much from occasional seasons spent with my mentors and influential leaders.

Competency therefore in terms of Jesus-shaped leadership is about focused development of our fullest gifting and potential. It is helping people to become what Jesus is calling them to be.

It would involve developing a number of life and leadership skills – self-understanding, self-management, interpersonal skills and ability, goal setting, the concretizing and communication of vision as God gives it, and the ability to call people to the task at hand in obedience to all that God commands. But it has to happen in the context of our larger relationship as disciples of Jesus in community and on mission with him.

To raise competent disciple-making leaders will involve leaders doing all they can to develop other leaders, a few at a time.

Show and tell. Call out and encourage the gifts and life-skills of new leaders. Mentor and disciple them. That’s the Jesus-way.

 

[1] Mark 1:17; John 21:22

Jesus-shaped Leaders – The 5 ‘C’s: Part 4 (by Manik Corea)

Jesus-shaped Leaders – The 5 ‘C’s: Part 3 (by Manik Corea)

We are into the 3rd of our series on 5 ‘C’s of Christian leadership. We have seen previously that Jesus-shaped leadership requires a divine Calling and the test of proven Character. Today, we will speak of ‘Charism’ – the gifting and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

The role of the Holy Spirit in the raising, empowering and sustaining of leaders for God’s work and purpose cannot be overplayed.

When I was made a presbyter in the Anglican Church, as is traditional in the ordination service, an ancient hymn was sung called ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’ (or ‘Come Creator Spirit’).  It was an invocation to the Holy Spirit of God to fill the ones being so-called and set apart:

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,

and lighten with celestial fire.

Thou the anointing Spirit art,

who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

It was a very sacred moment for me, as I knelt before the bishop.

In fact, ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ is one of the most ancient, pithy prayers of the church. It still needs to be prayed today.

From earliest days of the church, all who were set apart to leadership in the church had hands laid on them or were prayed for to be anointed of God’s Spirit (see for example Acts 6:76; 13:3; 14:23; 1 Timothy 1:6).

Divine charism and human character-transformation are intricately and inseparably related. Without the Holy Spirit, we are shapeless and flat, like balloons devoid of air. The real presence of God in us is what ultimately sets us apart, gives us freedom, life and brings a thousand other blessings. Without Him, we flatter to deceive.

When I was a teenager going to junior-college in Singapore (our equivalent of high-school or sixth-form college), I was the leader of a Christian fellowship of students that met for worship, prayer and bible study and sought to be evangelize in our school. I recall one evening when the leaders had gathered for prayer after a busy season of Christian activity.

In that time of prayer as we sought the Lord, one of our number had a vision. He described a box covered by jewels and precious stones. A hand then opened the box, which was filled to the brim with sand. After the vision was described, someone else shared an interpretation. He said, ‘Our works and lives to God looked like that. We were so busy with activities for God that we had neglected to tend our inner life and walk with him. Our works looked good, but they were in reality to him like a box of sand.’ The Spirit convicted us and led us to a time of repentance.

The lesson from that night of prayer is one I often need reminding of. How frequently I’ve striven and sought to lead and work by my own strength and wisdom, instead of seeking the unction of God’s Spirit to line up with his will, accomplish his work and display his glory.

It is noteworthy, then in Acts 6, when the Apostles decided a broadening of leadership was necessary so that they could focused on preaching and prayer (conjoined twins in any apostolic work), they called the church to find men who were ‘of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom.’ (Acts 6:3).

Character (‘of good repute’) and charism (‘full of the Holy Spirit’) go together and aided by wisdom, enabled them to be called to this specific hands-on ministry.

The presence and fullness of the Holy Spirit in us will tell. The Epistles constantly exhorts that we be filled by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18 – Greek present imperative, i.e. ‘go on being filled’) and keep in step with Him (Galatians 5:16). By that same Spirit, we are empowered for life (Ephesians 3:16), adopted as his own (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) and can preach the Gospel in word and deed (Romans 15:18-19).

Leadership without charism then is simply man-made ability. But empowered by Him, we are death-defiant. ‘If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies.’ (Romans 8:11.)

So may it be with you and me today. Come, Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus-shaped Leaders – The 5 ‘C’s: Part 3 (by Manik Corea)

Jesus-shaped Leaders – The 5 ‘C’s: Part 2 (by Manik Corea)

Last week, we look at the first C of Jesus-shaped Leadership – the Calling (or appointment) of God. God calls; we answer.

But answering God’s call to leadership is not enough for us to be and become the leaders God seeks. We need the next ‘C’ of Character. If calling is the chef that conjures up the meal, then character is the key ingredient that makes the dish. Leadership ultimately thrives or falters on the character of the leader.

Character has been defined as ‘the aggregate of a person’s moral qualities, demonstrated through the values, beliefs, and choices that person makes.’[1] It is the inner reality of our person as God sees us. Who we are in truth will largely determine the strength and legacy we build on and leave.

Consider the story of Alexander the Great. The epithet tagged to his name signified that he was a military strategist par excellence, a super-hero of the day. He led his armies on an 11-year military campaign, conquering most of the then known-world by the tender age of 30.

But what was he like apart from name and fame? ‘He had multiple wives, lived out a number of sexual distortions, descended into paranoia, and died, at age thirty-two, after a two-day drinking binge.’ [2]

His greatness was ultimately usurped by his weaknesses.

We live in a world that continues to hearken after the ‘Alexanders’ of our day, whose achievements and talents are at the forefront. People are too easily willing to overlook the character flaws of our leading figures (in practically any field – politics, business, sport, the entertainment industry) so long as they deliver on results and performance.

Often, what you say and do before others matters more than who you really are behind them. Performance seems to devour integrity for lunch.

But Jesus’ called an entirely different tune – “It shall not be so among you.” (Matthew 20:26a)

Character and personal integrity matter pre-eminently. This is borne out in the Scriptures. 1Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 present a list of qualities to be sought for in leaders of the church– overseers/bishops (episkopē) and deacons (diakonos). The majority of things that qualify us to leadership have to do not with ability, but with character – how we behave towards others in particular.

  1. L Moody famously said, ‘Character is what you are in the dark’. But godly character must also show up and shine bright in the glare of a watching world. (Matthew 5:16).

Leaders with integrity are in demand in the Kingdom of God. In Exodus 18:21, Jethro encouraged his son-in-law Moses to select and appoint for leadership over Israel “men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain”.

The Psalmist intoned that “David shepherded (Israel) with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.” (Psalm 78:72). This pleased God, who saw him as a man after his own heart, unlike his predecessor Saul, who though called and anointed, acted ultimately out of rebellion and spiritual pride to his own demise.

What does it take to be leaders after God’s own heart? Our character must be transformed by him.

Character can change for the better or be hardened by sin. In the long run, it reflects the cumulative effect of consistent choices and acts pursued in both the critical and ordinary moments of life. Christian character, like fruit, will need above all to be grown and developed in the soil of grace, perseverance and faith in Christ.

Jesus is ultimately not interested that his leaders simply perform well. He is interested that his leaders do the will of the Father.

We often get confused on this point. Edmund Chan, the influential Singaporean pastor, said that we think effective leadership is all a matter of skill. He said, ‘We look at how we lead. God looks at how we live.’

The difference is critical. We may falter and fall or get it wrong, but the righteous will be swift to get up and flee to Jesus.

Ultimately, Jesus-shaped leadership will show more in our character (who we truly are in relation to Him) then by achievements, awards and acclamations (what we’ve done in front of others). The question then ultimately that every true disciple-making servant leader must answer daily: ‘Is all my life being laid down today as a living sacrifice to God?’

[1] John E. Johnson Missing Voices. (Langham Partnership, 2019), 90.

[2] Thomas Martin, Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellnistic Times. (New Haven, 1996), p.197 as quoted in John E. Johnson Missing Voices. (Langham Partnership, 2019), 91.

Jesus-shaped Leaders – The 5 ‘C’s: Part 2 (by Manik Corea)

The 5 ‘C’s of Jesus-Shaped Leadership: Part 1 (by Manik Corea)

Last week, we began this series by affirming that Jesus’ view of Christian leadership is the one that counts, and if we are going to raise disciple-making leaders for God’s mission in church and world, then no other view ultimately counts.

Additionally, we saw from Jesus’ teaching example that in His (glorious) opinion, great leaders are great servants.

Since every Christian leader is always a disciple first, therefore the prototype of leadership for every Christian leader is Christ himself, since leaders are first and foremost, disciples of Jesus. And Jesus modeled servant-leadership.

In the historic churches therefore, one is always ordained to the diaconate as a deacon first, prior to ordination as a presbyter or elder. The call to lead is always at the base level, a call to serve. Leadership is diakonia or service.

Today, we begin to look specially at what I call the 5 ‘C’s of Jesus-shaped leadership – five critical elements that constitute divinely approved and inspired leadership in Scripture and history. The first of this is ‘Call’.

God, rich in grace and mercy, calls us to himself. Disciples are those who respond in repentance and faith. Similarly, leadership is first and foremost the call of God to a man or a woman towards a godly task and vocation. It is not a job for hire. No prophet or apostle in the Scriptures ever applies to be one. God calls, and still does, and part of the call of the church at last, is to exercise a godly discernment, guided by the Holy Spirit, to which amongst us are called to exercise leadership.

Disciples and leaders, like sheep, are safe so long as they learn to heed the call of their Master and Chief Shepherd.  

Years ago, when I was an under-graduate studying in London, I went with an international student group to stay on a farm in Cornwall, in South-West England – a novel experience for city-folk like me. One of our fellow students, a fine Christian man, was a farmer there. He was into poultry farming but also kept a flock of sheep. We had a great time visiting the flock with him. We noticed the sheep responded to a distinctive sound he made to call them. I remember a few of us trying to imitate the calling sound he made, but none of the sheep were deceived to follow us.

They had come to know the voice of their shepherd (John 10:4-5; 16). Jesus-shaped leadership flourishes when we develop an ear for hearing and obeying the voice of God. This must be clear and discern-able.

We know from the Gospels that Jesus had a habit of spending alone time with his Father in prayer (Luke 5:16 – something he taught disciples to do in Matthew 6:8). I find it interesting that Luke tells us that Jesus spent a night in prayer prior to calling and appointing his twelve disciples (Like 6:12-16). Why did he spend the night in prayer? I believe that the choice of his closest companions in ministry was a matter of vital importance to Jesus, and he diligently sought the Father’s mind on this, interceding for those so-called.

Consequently, every instance of the appointing of leaders (elders, deacons, etc) in the book of Acts is done in the context of prayer and often, fasting – Acts 1:23-26; 6:6; 13:3; 14:23. We don’t simply elect the leaders among us – we seek to discern God’s call and appointment on those he’s chosen. This was no flippant exercise of popularity, but a discerning of who God has called.

One qualifies for leadership only if one can prove a call from God. J. Oswald Sanders in his classic treatise on the subject, wrote that ‘Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or churchly assemblies. God alone makes them. One does not become a spiritual leader by merely filling an office, taking course work in the subject, or resolving in one’s own will to do this task. A person must qualify to be a spiritual leader.’ The call of God must be discerned or be clear in us. Whom God calls, he qualifies.

The clear evidence of a calling we receive to leadership is shown in the next ‘C’ on our list – character, which we will discuss next week.

The 5 ‘C’s of Jesus-Shaped Leadership: Part 1 (by Manik Corea)

Jesus-shaped Leaders (by Manik Corea)

Discipleship can be defined as the redemptive process of learning to look at the world through the eyes of Jesus. It is coming to see all of life from the Father’s point of view and for his glorious ends, as Jesus did (John 5:19-20, 6:38). We are called likewise in Scripture to view people, our circumstances and the world from an altogether different vantage point than the world does (see 2 Corinthians 4 and 5, Colossians 3:1, 2).

In the Gospels, the teaching, parables and sterling example of Jesus often challenged the disciples to see things from a completely different standpoint, one that did not come naturally to them. Old habits die hard, but die they must, if the new is to prosper.

Indeed, for us to become bona-fide disciples, we will need new eyes – bereft and healed of our myopia and blindness from the cataract-like effects of sin and self-centeredness. These prevent clear sight and right response to the will and ways of God. We need sight that Jesus supernaturally bestows and restores, not merely improves – so that we can truly say, ‘I was blind, but now I see’.

But seeing afresh with new eyes is a challenge because we have gotten so used to seeing ourselves and the world about us through bad eyes in the dark night of sin. Too many of our perceptions and underlying beliefs have been framed and informed by years of following the notions and distortions afforded by faulty vision.

A case in point is the popular understanding of leadership versus Jesus’ startling teaching about it. In this next series of blogs, I want to take a look at some biblical principles and insights regarding a kingdom understanding on the call and role of leaders in the church and mission of God. I am calling it ‘Jesus-shaped leadership.’

Jesus saw leadership very differently from the way it is viewed in our world. In our world, it is all about power, influence and achievement– how high you got in order to dominate (negatively) or command (positively) people, where the loci of influence is your leadership style, personality and competence.

Jesus taught and modeled a different way of leadership that was not simply about the use (or abuse) of power for personal or instrumental benefit or corporate profit. Instead, it had godly influence and purpose, with an other-person focus. He defined it strictly in terms of ‘servanthood’ – the helping and building up of others in love and truth.

In the church therefore, leadership isn’t about how high your performance curve extends, but how low your service stoops.

Jesus’ object lesson on this is at the start of the Upper Room discourse, the night he is arrested and sentenced to die as recorded in John chapters 13-16. In John 13:1-17, Jesus does something which stuns his disciples. We read in verses 3 and 4 that Jesus, cognizant of his divine authority and soon-coming ascension, paradoxically rises to get basin and water to wash the feet of his disciples as only the lowliest of slaves would do.

Why this lesson, and why now? Perhaps the context for his action is in Luke’s account of their time in the upper room, where we read that there was a dispute among them about who is the greatest (Luke 22:24). Even at this desperate hour, they were still thinking about who gets positions and titles. Jesus called them (and calls us) not to seek for titles, but to serve with towels.

He drives home the intended teaching in John 13:14-15: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

Jesus-shaped leadership confounds the strong and mighty of our world. Humility and lowly service, not power and authority, are its hall-marks.

“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 11:43-45).

In Jesus’ eyes, to lead is to serve. No more, no less.

Jesus-shaped Leaders (by Manik Corea)

Expounding the 12 Principles #5:   (by ​Jon Shuler​)

5) The Principle of Serving.

There is no part of the human body that was not created for a purpose. Each limb, each organ, every major system, indeed every cell has a purpose. It is possible to live after the loss of some, but each of the manifold parts was created to be supportive of the whole. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. As it is in the human body, so it is in the church. The constituent living cell is a believer, and every healthy cell in the body has a purpose.

The Apostle Paul writes of the church as the body of Christ, and the Apostle Peter gives us the image of a living temple. Whether we think organically of the body, or more structurally of the temple (though remember it is a “living” temple), each believer has a part to play. None are to be passive, even if hidden, because each is needed for the common good. To serve the Lord means not only to serve among his people, but also to serve his people.

We argued in an earlier post in this series that every believer is to find the work that the Lord has created them to do, that is their unique and particular ministry. As the journey of faith unfolds, this early work, or ministry, often becomes the primary calling of their life. But here we are describing a different element of the healthy church, not vocation. We are describing a willingness to be used, even outside of ones gifting. This serving is the readiness to do whatever needs to be done. This serving posture is for all.

To begin the journey of a Christian is to learn that we are to be stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Central to this is to begin to exercise the common grace of serving others. We discover that Sunday worship is vital and normal, but we also learn to work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God. When we learn to tithe, that is to return a tenth of our financial resources to the Lord, we are serving the body. When we begin to take part in daily intercession for the mission and ministry of the local church, we are serving the body. If we agree to do some simple act of service for a member in need, we are serving the body. In such ways we learn not to hold back from the needs of the church. We offer ourselves to fill a gap. We serve the body of Christ.

And to what end? Why does it matter that all learn the principle of serving? Because the Lord who created us calls us to this. We are part of the family of God, and we share in the common life. We have received so we can give. We have been blessed so we can be a blessing. Our model for this way of life is Jesus Christ our Lord.The one who came down from heaven to save us, gave himself for us. We are servants of the servant Lord. The whole body of Christ is to grow up into the head, into Christ. It cannot do so unless every part is working together for the common good. All are called to be a serving disciples.

Used with permission, https://joncshuler.wordpress.com/

Expounding the 12 Principles #5:   (by ​Jon Shuler​)