Leadership Archive, 2020
1/12 On The Shortcut, The Art of Spiritual Courtship:
In 2Corinthians 11:2, Paul said he treated his spiritual leadership like a courtship (Young's Literal Translation): ...for I am zealous for you with zeal of God, for I did betroth you to one husband, a pure virgin, to present to Christ.
In the modern era of internet, profile-based dating, not to mention a process-less hookup culture, very, very few people still understand the art of courtship. While every generation of human history has had its romantic and sexual shortcuts, today's internet and communication technology have almost institutionalized such shortcuts. These roundabouts and hurry-to-the-goal mechanisms largely eliminate the need for advanced social skills, social skills required to win someone over with time and detail amidst obstacles or resistance.
The shortcut phenomenon and its near-institutionalization, however, is not only in the realm of romance and sex, but in the realm of leadership, and in the context of this mini-article, spiritual leadership within the church.
I regularly, perhaps often, engage with leaders in the born-again community that have an agitated (but often silent or subtle) undercurrent of impatience. People are not changing fast enough. Numbers are not increasing fast enough. More money is not coming in fast enough. Opportunities are not opening fast enough. Where is the shortcut? Where is the accelerator? Where is the winning tactic?
To be clear, there are leadership modes and tactics, and spiritual modes and tactics, that tend to slow things down or speed things up. Regardless, there is an inescapable art to leadership in the body of Christ that will not change: the art of spiritual courtship. People need to be, literally, wooed and won with time and detail. Solomon said that a person who can consistently win a soul is wise (Pr 11:30). Many Christians use this proverb for evangelism, but evangelism as such did not exist when Solomon philosophized. The proverb has a more practical and ubiquitous scope, one application of which would certainly be leadership and the art of courting a person, a group, an organization, a church.
There is a delicacy to spiritual leadership. There is a romancing and wooing of the Bride to her heavenly Husband. This process, whether it happens a bit faster or a bit slower, cannot be ignored. Like a maiden being courted pre-modernity, Christians will become suspicious and resistant, defensive and resentful, if you try to rush them to a goal without taking the time to win them at a warm emotional and relational level. This is not something you can fake or force or rush. This is not something you can funnel into the scheduled meeting times twice a week. This requires patience and detail, and the returns are truly astounding.
How much do you know about the people you lead? I am not referring to their superficial dossier, but to secondary and deeper knowledge. Stuff that you actually have to try and find out, i.e., quality unforced time and listening skills where you do not talk for long stretches of time. To do that you actually have to care about them.
12/27 On Shepherding the Poor:
Temporary poverty can have transformational benefits, like humility, deep appreciation for the non-material happinesses in life, relational development and interdependence, pinpointing and changing poor money habits, and so on. Chronic or inveterate poverty is not, however, the Lord's ultimate ideal for His people or anyone. Deuteronomy 15:4,5 (NIV) say: "...there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow..."
Many individuals, though, for whatever reason, will become poor or start life poor. A few verses later, the Lord acknowledges this realistically (v11 NKJV), "For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.'"
In reading verse 11 one might too quickly assume "opening your hand wide" only means humanitarian benevolence. For spiritual leaders, I challenge you to read more depth into this scripture. Opening the hand wide, for spiritual leaders, also means giving the poor comprehensive economic shepherding and financial responsibility-building. Here are two of the most important economic empowerment points in Scripture. The following is not exhaustive.
Depth identity. Chronic or inveterate poverty is not a mere lack of cash or mere arithmetics. Poverty that persists over many seasons (or generations) is the fruit of a deeper identity that produces a financial personality that produces poverty-enabling behaviors. If we are to shepherd people economically we will have to redig and relay their deepest assumptions and approaches to themselves, others, life, and their Maker.
Calling discovery. Moses wrote that God gives His people "power to get wealth" (Deu 8:18 NKJV). The Hebrew word here for "power" is koach, and in this context it more specifically means "ability or strength." Thus, in everyday vernacular, God gave us signature strengths or abilities or powers through which we can generate personal economy. Each person has something(s) or can do something(s) that, when well-developed, can be valuable enough to create personal economy. We shepherds have to help those in our care to better discern their koach, develop it, or make other adjustments to accommodate its presence and growth.
Chronic or inveterate poverty makes a person feel and live like everyday is their last stand. Being in this survival frame too long hogs the body's, brain's, and soul's resources, setting the precursors to major health problems and leaving little or no vigor for personal design discovery, intellectual development, creative contemplation and strategizing, and overall life development. Most importantly, it tempts a person to wonder about the nature and engagement of the Father in their poverty. As spiritual leaders ministering in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can answer those wonderings about the Father and reveal Him, first, by mobilizing humanitarian care for them in the short-term, and second, by dignifying their human value with comprehensive economic shepherding and transformation for the long-term.
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