Our goal is healthy churches and Christian ministries. This means every member must take responsibility for the whole; every...
The Four Dynamics of TransformationMalcolm Webber
In our last Letter, we looked at the goal of leader development – we must build healthy leaders. There are five key attributes of a healthy leader:
Thus, a healthy Christian leader is a man or woman who knows God, was formed and lives in supportive and accountable community, has strong character, knows the purpose of God and presents it with credibility, clarity and passion, and has the necessary gifts, skills and knowledge to lead the people in the accomplishment of this purpose – and is continually growing in all five areas.
Whether or not one embraces our particular “5C Model,” everyone agrees that we must build the whole person. Certainly, no one seems to be arguing that we should build Christian leaders who don’t know God, or who don’t have character, and so forth!
But how can we build the whole person? It’s very easy to say that we need to do this. How can we actually build union with Christ, relational capacity, integrity, vision and practical ministry capacities in an emerging or existing leader?
There is no guaranteed formula for doing this. However, biblically, there are consistent dynamics that are effective in changing people’s lives. In addition, our own experience affirms the power of these dynamics. After 30 years of walking with God, studying the Scriptures, leading churches and building leaders, we have experienced and observed, over and over again, four particular dynamics that bring transformation to people’s lives. These are the “Four Dynamics of Transformation.”
This idea of Four Dynamics – the 4Ds – is so simple and yet so powerful. We already know this intuitively; it’s commonsense. There are four dynamics that bring transformation of life:
- Spiritual – the transforming power of the Holy Spirit (connecting with God).
- Relational – the transforming power of relationships with others (connecting with people).
- Experiential – the transforming power of life’s experiences (connecting with life).
- Instructional – the transforming power of the Word of God (connecting with Truth).
This was the practice of the early church:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)
They were “devoted” to all four dynamics:
- the apostles’ teaching – instructional.
- fellowship – relational.
- the breaking of bread – experiential.
- prayer – spiritual.
This is how lives were changed in the New Testament church!
This was how Jesus built His emerging leaders (see a previous Letter). This was how Paul ministered the Gospel:
…our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. (1 Thess. 1:5-7)
Once more, all 4Ds were present:
- our gospel came to you not simply with words – instructional.
- but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction – spiritual.
- You know how we lived among you for your sake – relational.
- You became imitators of us and of the Lord – experiential.
- in spite of severe suffering – experiential.
As a result, the lives of the Thessalonians were transformed and they became “a model to all the believers.”
How the 4Ds Work
Through the spiritual dynamic, we come face-to-face with the inward Presence of the Holy Spirit, who transforms us:
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18, ESV)
Through the relational dynamic, we connect with people who reveal Christ to us and transform us:
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; cf. Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:7; 1 Pet. 4:10)
The experiential dynamic includes the impact on us of many kinds of life’s experiences. For example, in the sufferings, challenges and pressures of life, we go beyond our own capacities to succeed and, in a deeper way, look to God for His help, and we are changed:
… 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. (2 Cor. 1:8-9)
In the instructional dynamic, we are changed by the Word of God, by the power of Truth:
… and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:15-17)
When all 4Ds are strongly present in a leader development design, spiritual life is nurtured, relational capacities are strengthened, character is developed, calling is clarified and deep leadership capacities are built. This is how healthy leaders are built.
The 4Ds in Leader Development Design
If we are to build the whole person, our leader development design must strongly be:
- Spiritual. We must bring our emerging leaders face-to-face with God through prayer, fasting, meditation in the Word of God, forgiveness, reflection and encounters with the Holy Spirit.
- Relational. Healthy leaders are built in a context of genuine relationships with other people who are their mentors, coaches, role models, leaders, teachers, friends, and spiritual mothers and fathers.
- Experiential. Leader development is a hands-on experience. People learn by doing, especially when they are challenged. Pressure is also essential in the formation of a leader.
- Instructional. The teaching of the Word of God must be practical, relevant and engaging.
To build healthy leaders, all Four Dynamics of Transformation must be strongly present; none can be neglected, all have the highest priority. This is the true challenge of Christian leader development – to design and cultivate transformational cultures of leader development.