Jul 2014

Simple Design and Complex Design

By God’s grace, for the second time in a row, LeaderSource SGA was recently selected as one of the recipients of the Leadership 500 Excellence Awards for 2014 “for outstanding achievements in leadership development and programs.” In addition we were selected as a “Top 10 finalist” in the Non-Profit Organizations Category . The complete list is here (we’re on page 12). We thank God for this honor.

In our last Letter, we began to look at how to design transformational leader development. Let’s continue now…

Simple Design and Complex Design

An intuitive grasp of the principles of gravity and aerodynamics is sufficient to catch a ball that is thrown to you. But it’s not sufficient to design an airplane, even though the same principles are at work! To design an airplane you need a considerably greater (and conscious) mastery of the principles.

In the same way, there is both simple and complex leader development design. Just as you can catch a ball without knowing anything about “lift” and “acceleration,” so you can intuitively harness the power of 4D design (incorporating spiritual, relational, experiential and instructional dynamics) without being able to design a full-time, multi-year curriculum for training.

Anyone can do “simple” design. For example, a leader with an elementary understanding of the 4Ds will know that he should take an emerging leader with him when he goes to do ministry work and he will very naturally harness the Four Dynamics. He’ll talk to the emerging leader along the way and discuss the work and why and how it should be done. They’ll pray together and do the ministry work together. Then they’ll debrief what happened. On the way home, he’ll ask the emerging leader about his marriage and his vision for his life and so forth. Many wonderful things will happen – transformational things! So many profound spiritual things will occur without the leader consciously and precisely understanding how it all works. He just knows the simple principles of the 4Ds and so he does simple design – and it works!

Anyone can do simple design, and we need to nurture the capacity of every leader (and believer) so that everyone does it. In this way, across the life of the church everyone will understand that they need to build the whole person and everyone at a simple level will know how to do it. Consequently, across the life of the church everyone will nurture and build others. Parents will build children, disciples will build new disciples, leaders will build new leaders. This is a healthy church – a place of continual nurturing of life, where everyone takes responsibility for building others.

This does not mean that everyone can stand up and do the teaching. Only a few are specifically called and gifted as teachers. But, at a simple level, everyone can build others. This is the thriving healthy church of Ephesians 4, in which the body “builds itself up.”

From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Eph. 4:16)

This simple building of life can be achieved across the entire church as everyone has just a basic understanding of the principles of life transformation and then takes responsibility to apply them.

In addition, to this simple design which everyone can do, there will also be those in the church who have the particular giftedness to create complex design. These are the ones, for example, who design a long-term training program for emerging leaders. The emerging leaders need a systematic and deep foundational training for their lives – perhaps over the course of a month or six months or a year. So we need some who will be able to design all the various ingredients throughout that time of training.

Not everyone can do that. God gives the church a few people who have this particular gifting and calling who can then create the design that others use.

Simple Design Is Easy!

It is not hard to start doing “simple design.” Anyone can do it. In fact, you are probably already doing it!

  • When you create a mentoring relationship for one young leader, you have just done design.
  • When you intentionally give an emerging leader a single challenging assignment, you have just done design.
  • When you initiate a coaching relationship for an existing leader, you have just done design.
  • When you start an intercessor relationship for a leader, you have just done design.
  • When you make opportunities for mature leaders to spend time with young leaders, sharing their lives and experiences, you have just done design.
  • When you take an emerging leader with you on a ministry trip, you have just done design.
  • When you provide opportunities for spiritual experiences for those you are building, you have just done design.
  • When you enhance your teaching by inviting questions or by interacting with the participants, you have just done design.
  • When you create a single learning experience for one of your children, you have just done design.

“Doing design” simply means being intentional about using any of the Four Dynamics of Transformation (or any of the core principles of healthy leader development) to create opportunities for life transformation. It is not hard! You can do this immediately, and the more you do it, the better you will do it.

In our next Letter, we will examine more principles of transformational leader development design.

Jun 2014

Designing Transformational Leader Development

In this Letter, we will begin a new series, looking at how to design transformational leader development.

Transformational leader development requires more than classroom instruction. Life transformation takes place through a combination of the “Four Dynamics of Transformation”:

  • Spiritual Dynamics – including prayer, worship, reflection, meditation in the Word;
  • Relational Dynamics – including encouragement, accountability, examples, mentors, coaches;
  • Experiential Dynamics – including learning by doing, challenging assignments, and pressure;
  • Instructional Dynamics – the teaching of the Word of God in an engaging and interactive way.

Traditional training, however, almost exclusively uses the Instructional Dynamic.

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May 2014

The Power of Pressure in Leader Development

In our last Letter we looked at the power of pressure in leader development.

There are several cautions we must observe as we introduce pressure into the lives of emerging leaders:

  • It is not true that “the more we make them suffer, the more they will grow.” God allows suffering in our lives, but He does so wisely. We should not just callously or arbitrarily throw people into the fire, thinking this will automatically improve them. We should be intentional and careful about exposing emerging leaders to various forms of pressure. A boxer said to his manager, “I want to fight the champ.” The manager said, “No, you’re not ready for the champ.” “But I want to fight him. I’m ready. Why can’t I fight him?” “Because,” said the manager, “you’ve only so many fights in you, and it’s my job to pick the right ones.” In the same way, we need to protect our emerging leaders by carefully designing what they experience.
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Apr 2014

True Leadership is Forged in the Fire

Many biblical leaders such as Joseph, Moses, David and Paul were built in the fire of suffering.

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (2 Tim. 3:10-12)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Cor. 1:3-5)

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2 Cor. 1:8-11; see also 4:7-12; 11:21-29; )

These are the ways of God: healthy leaders are built – and lead – in the fires of suffering.

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Mar 2014

Jesus Showed Us the Path of Suffering

Leaders are built through fire. Godly leaders know that sufferings can build spiritual maturity, brokenness and genuine faith in God; thus, they do not shy away from the cross in their lives.

Accordingly, Jesus showed the way of suffering to the leaders He was building. He personally demonstrated sufferings to them:

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Feb 2014

Leaders Are Built Through Fire

Leaders are built through fire – like steel is made hard in the fire, like gold is purified in the furnace, like carbon is formed under pressure into diamonds.

Pressure reveals the impurities in one’s life so they can be dealt with. It is far better to put the emerging leader under pressure before he is given significant responsibility and authority than to wait until the time when failure under pressure will destroy both the leader and those with him. Therefore, the leader development process can intentionally put the participants under a certain amount of pressure to squeeze heart contaminations to the surface so they can be revealed, confronted and removed.

Significantly, the formation of diamonds from carbon requires three things: (1) extreme pressures, 100 miles or more deep under the earth’s surface, (2) high temperatures, 2000 °F or more, and (3) time, diamonds are formed very slowly.

Of course, this is not only true for leaders; this is how God deals with all of us. He has always used suffering as a vital part of the Christian life.-

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Jan 2014

Jesus is the Source of Everything

Everything is in Jesus. Do not seek anything outside of Jesus. He died on the cross to restore you to Himself.

Jesus did not die just so that you may live a righteous, ethical life; He died to restore you to Himself, and in union with Him your heart will be captivated by the beauty and invigorated by the power of Divinely-imparted holiness. He did not die that you might be bound with a life of religious busyness and duty; He died to bring you to Himself that you may know the delightful privilege of living every moment in His gracious fellowship and zealous service.

So let Him be your desire; purely to behold and to know Him your longing. Be captivated with Him; and not just so you will receive anything from Him or can do anything for Him. But seek communion with Him simply because He is precious. Worship Him merely because He is God and you are man. Let Him become your song just because He is worthy. Long for Him for His own sake. Hunger for Him for no motive other than Him. Thirst for Him because only He can ever satisfy.

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Dec 2013

It’s All in Him!

Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Our personal experiential knowledge of Him and our faith in Him are inseparable. Faith that is purely academic, consisting in nothing more than mental assent with Scriptural principles that may in themselves be sound, is not authentic faith and in times of trial and testing it will eventually fail. A true faith will triumph and abide forever, and it is only present in the hearts of those who know Him, to whom faith is not a requirement nor duty but a privilege.

Abide in me, as I also abide in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must abide in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)

Before we can expect to see the growth of Christian character, fruit and leadership in our lives, we must first encounter God. We must first come to know Jesus inwardly and personally. Anything else is false, external religion and a worthless substitute for Christian reality. Anything else will never satisfy: either us or God. Anything else is of no value.

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Nov 2013

We Need Real Christians; We Need Real Leaders!

We do new Christians the gravest of injustices when we teach them how to “play the part” of a Christian without giving them the inward reality of experience of Jesus Christ. We teach them how to act “holy”, how to live “righteously”, and how to talk “faith”, and then require it all of them. But unless we have in truth actually led them to Jesus Christ who will be the only true inward Source of all these fruits, we have only succeeded in teaching them how to imitate the Christian life, and have not at all helped them to become real Christians. We have taught them how to display the outward forms of godliness all the while neglecting the inward power thereof. We have done little more than to bring them into religious captivity.

This produces several classes of Christians. On the one hand are those who play along with the game, mouthing all the right things and learning how to climb the religious ladder of church acceptance and respectability – “professional Christians”. They become expert at making the right moves, and all their spiritual exercise is stereotyped and based on approved convention rather than simply being the outgushing of a genuine fellowship with God. They profess spirituality, but possess very little. Others will see and hear their Christian lives but no-one will feel them. As one brother said, “You can’t get warm by a painted fire!” Their hearts are empty, and their lives barren, while outwardly they smile and play the part. Unfortunately, these self-motivated souls are often the ones who end up as leaders in the world of organized religion.

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Oct 2013

Union with Christ is the Source of All True Leadership

Christianity is the restoration of man to fellowship and union with His God. Out of this inward union, the Christian life grows. Out of this partaking of the life of Christ Himself, is generated that same life within the believer:

unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you… Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live by the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live by me. (John 6:53, 56-57)

In our own strength and ability we cannot reproduce His life and image in our lives – but He can! Man, in himself, is not able to live a life that is holy, righteous and faithful, and therefore pleasing to God; but the Christian life comes easily and naturally to the life of Christ. “There is none good but One, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18) When His life abides within, godly outward actions will follow.

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