In recent years Junior has been increasingly sought for leadership development. While many of these are ministerial or church-related, he has also helped communicators, sports coaches, developing business leaders, even teachers and doctoral candidates, in some of the most nuanced and often overlooked ways. Similarly, a growing number of leaders have expressed interest in a regular devotional, mini-teaching, or commentary from Junior on leadership. In response, the bit below is for you. (All content here and sitewide is the intellectual and copyright property of JDM. All rights reserved.)
When doing multiperson leadership equipping, Junior loves to use small "Mount of Olives" home meetings. These relaxed, candid environments compel leaders to ask questions, share freely, dialogue in-depth, nourish interleader intimacy, and practice their gifted craft in a nurturant, but guided, setting. Individual follow-up spins off naturally and supernaturally from these unusually productive meetings.
As a leader, you are the genes of your group or organization. Your unique helix of personality, instincts, abilities, experience, and maturity level will determine the visible nature and quality of your group. Not only does this impose a stern mandate of personal growth and leadership development, it cautions us to wisely discern the epigenetics of leadership also: who we agree to lead, under what conditions, and for how long.
A favorite JDM scripture on leadership captures "the heart" and "the brain" of leadership, or said another way, inner health and leadership skill. It is Psalm 78:72 (NKJV): So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.
Below is Junior's most recent devotional, mini-teaching, or commentary on leadership. Sometimes these are ministerial, sometimes ubiquitous or some other specialization.
On Shepherding in Change, Uncertainty, or Trauma
Many Christians, even sincere and serious ones, do not know what to do in times of significant change, uncertainty, or trauma. They might know the rudimentary go-tos, like praying about it or talking to someone trusted, but they often do not know the fundamental tactical responses that can repurpose a season of dark fog into personal metamorphosis. In other words, change, uncertainty, or trauma are the surgical tools for me to change Me permanently. This is basic New Testament Christianity. Suffering repurposed into personal evolution.
As a kingdom leader, you cannot be annoyed by change, uncertainty, or trauma--the valley of the shadow of death--in the lives of those you shepherd. Rather, it is your golden window to paraclete them to green pastures, still waters, the restoration of soul, and more righteous paths. Job 36:15 speaks of this golden window and the revelatory opportunity therein (NASB): He rescues the afflicted in their misery, and opens their ears in time of oppression. If the Lord is willing to both rescue and reveal in times of dark fog, your task is to coach and position the sufferer to dig into His presence and Word themselves--and invoke the actualization of Job 36:15 and new spiritual growth.
The first fundamental in the born-again life is the command to grow spiritually and keep growing spiritually until the work is perfected and finished on the Day of Christ Jesus (Php 1:6). The dilemma of reaching nice plateaus in your spiritual life is that your mind can misinterpret those plateaus as if they are the final level of all spiritual maturity. We start thinking--at first subconsciously, then consciously--that we do not need to change all that much now that we have reached such-n-such plateau. Secular psychology actually has research and a name for this: end of history illusion.
In 2013, psychologists Jordi Quoidbach, Daniel Gilbert, and Timothy Wilson discovered, in subjects as young as 18 and as old as 68, that people pervasively believe that they have changed a lot in the past, but would change very little or not at all in the future. We put Christian language on this ubiquitous psychological phenomenon and reword it like this: "God has changed me so much to get me to this level, but I don't need to change all that much from here forward." The end of history illusion in Christianese.
How could we ever think that, feel that, say that...when the God who is making us into His image is an infinity being? How could we ever reason that we have reached the end of our personal transformation history, when the God who is transforming us is literally omni-everything? Do we see how astonishingly dumb that is? As a shepherd, times of change, uncertainty, or trauma are your golden window to break through people's end of history illusion and coach them towards divine rescue, revelation, and new spiritual growth.
The following scripture may be the most important verse on spiritual growth. Ephesians 4:15 (NASB) says, But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Paul says we are to grow spiritually "in all aspects". That means we cannot grow only in the parts of the kingdom we like or prefer or that fit our movement or background or culture or family or emotional issues. We have to cooperate with His spiritual growth projects in every single aspect of our personality and life, with zero hangups and zero excuses. I know Christians who want to grow in the Spirit's voice but not sound theology, or sound theology but not the Spirit's voice. We are to grow up in all aspects. I know Christians who want to grow more in their spiritual gifts but not humility and patience, or humility and patience but not spiritual gifts. We are to grow up in all aspects. The parts of the Bible you avoid, the parts you have not read in fifteen years (or ever), are the very areas you need to grow up in.
In shepherding members of the ekklesia through the valley of dark fog, you will need to sense, with the Spirit's help and intuitive listening skills, exactly how the Lord wants to rescue them and exactly how the Lord wants to open their ears, i.e., how He wants to grow them spiritually. You cannot merely assume this or that based on the go-to answers of your pet movement or denomination or personality type; you will have to discern this with the Spirit's help and razor-sharp listening skills. When you have perceived these insights correctly, the sufferer will have a visceral reaction to your words (even if they are uncomfortable, even if they are resistant, and many will be, especially the self-sufficient high ego types). That visceral response is the Spirit agreeing deep inside them. With great patience and careful instruction, shepherd them towards green pastures, still waters, the restoration of soul, and more righteous paths.