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 Meaning Maps, Lower & Higher Stories
To help someone truly and permanently change, what we might call depth transformation, you must first discern and pinpoint their meaning map. This map is their internal value architecture that pushes them toward the same types of people, the same types of situations, the same types of behaviors. For example, a person who craves meaning in power or control will repeatedly tune in to other individuals who seem to have high degrees of environmental or emotional control (a form of coveting), or, they seek out (consciously or unconsciously) situations in which they appear strong and regal and got-it-all-together. A person who craves meaning in taking care of others will repeatedly scan the environment for victims, the needy, the weak, minors, dependents, i.e., those who will need them. A person who craves meaning in acceptance and group identity will repeatedly conform and agree to ongoing social martyrdom, i.e., the sacrifice of individuality.
These are only a few of the more obvious examples of one road driving towards an emotional destination on a person’s meaning map. That map, however, has multiple roads with multiple destinations, making most people complex contradictions of winding, crisscrossing roads, each with its own feelgood endpoint. To help someone in personal metamorphosis, therefore, you will have to pinpoint and intentionally disrupt their meaning map with Spirit-empowered truth on God’s values. A clashing of swords must happen. Their spearhead values (those 2-3 big ones shaping their entire life) must be desecrated, exposed for its futility and idolatry, exposed for its nagging inability to deliver the life they imagine. And, on the heels of you desecrating their lower story you must articulate a higher story. You must hold up a new meaning map with new destinations based on promise land theology in God’s Word--a diligent daily relationship with Him and the teleological nature of that relationship towards good and expected ends (Jer 29:11, Heb 4:1-11). In the language of Isaiah 62:10, we must clear out the stumblingstones (their lower story) and raise a banner over them (a higher and better story, God's).
We are not dependent on words alone, anointed as they may be, to help people with metamorphosis. God Himself—working in the lives of those He has queued for depth transformation—brings about providential circumstances that disrupt, desecrate, and negatively expose a person’s meaning map, usually with some degree of pain or embarrassment if they have resisted His earlier overtures to transformation. It is there, in the disillusioned valley of the lower stories they tried to live out, that our anointed explanations can facilitate practical transformations. We see, then, transformational ministry is the Lord co-opting us before and after He has judged a person’s idolatrous meaning map. It is us putting language to His destabilizing activity with anointed counsel, teaching, correction, instruction, and prayer.
Many (most) people are open and supple to major changes only when their lower stories have disillusioned them, have been exposed as an inferior form of living, have been proven to be unsustainable longterm. Job 36:15 (NASB) says, He rescues the afflicted in their misery, and opens their ears in time of oppression. Elihu says here that God grants a special revelatory blessing during times of pain. He "opens their ears". He speaks with louder volume and more specificity when our wrongly-built value structure comes back to bite us. One reason for this is, most people are simply more open to Him and personal metamorphosis during those times.
You are not laboring alone, nor are you laboring with words only, in bringing major change to people’s lives. If you are a diligent intercessor and stay very close the presence of the Lord daily, He will move in your social biome in significant ways to destabilize and disillusion those individuals setting their meaning maps above His, those playacting like their lower stories are actually higher stories. When He does, recognize it, draw near to those individuals in love and boldness, and add your transformational voice to the lifechanging window.