Clarifying My Voice

I ask all the ministry leaders I coach to work through Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner with me (I spelled their names right because I have the book in front of me…sorry again Stezer…I mean Stetzer).  I meet with them weekly to pray, talk about their ministry, and work through a portion of the book together.  We end each session developing some goals together that we will both accomplish by the next time we meet.  I love these times.  They are fantastic.

The first thing Kouzes and Posner tell leaders to do is “clarify their voice.”  They explain how important it is that a leader know what he/she believes and is able to articulate it so his/her beliefs are universally understood, memorable, and consistently communicated.

I just started working at Valley 4 months ago so I have been working this particular chapter for the first time with several leaders.  As we’ve talked I haven’t been able to avoid asking, “What do I believe about the church?”  Here are the beliefs/values I’ve settled on:

1. IMITATE JESUS – The job of a disciple is the intentional disciplined imitation of Jesus.

The word “intentional” here is important.   I spend a lot of time talking about Jesus.  I use His name a ton.  I do a bunch of stuff on His behalf; but how often do I look into the Gospels and ask, “How can I be more like Jesus today than yesterday?”  This is a lifestyle that demands disciplined, continuous self-reflection and personal transformation.   I learned how to do this with the Thingy and it has radically changed my understanding of discipleship and my faith. 

2. BE A MISSIONARY – To be a disciple is to be a missionary.

God is on mission to the world.  If we are to follow Him by imitating Him, we must also make it our consuming passion to be on mission to the world.

3. TEAM – Being part of a church is about being part of a team; not a gathering.

Far to often I have defined my communion with other believers by what we do together.  This is wrong.  We must define who we are by what we have in common – Jesus and His mission.  We are a team.  Our gifts work in tandem to make the Kingdom life a reality now and to announce its coming.

4. SIMPLE AND FOCUSED – Church structures must be simple and focused on equipping and encouraging.

Any structures (gatherings, systems of organization, disciplines, rituals, rules, etc…) a church decides to adopt must focus on equiping and encouraging the people to be missionaries in the world.  Everything drifts toward complexity, so we must fight this and refuse to over program or over plan.  We need to set one another free to be in the community.  This will demand a constant process of internal evaluation and the discipline to say “no.”

5. SMALL AND MOBILE – Church bodies must be kept small and simple so they can multiple.

Individual units/teams should be kept small and simple so they can multiple.  I’m convinced after doing church work for almost ten years now in very different church systems that exponential growth (or “movements” to use a popular word) only comes through multiplication.  This means our systems must be light and reproducible by any member of the team.

6. NO SPECIALISTS, JUST SERVANTS – Leadership is about being a servant, not about being specially gifted or empowered.

The minute we begin setting aside leaders as special we lose the ability to multiple.  If every team needs a gifted teacher, preacher, pastor… you fill in the blank… then we cap exponential growth and devalue individual members.  Instead, every leader must see him/herself as a servant of the team who facilitates systems that equip and encourage their discipleship and mission.

7. DON’T GLORIFY THE TOOLS – Rituals and rules are tools to be picked up when we need them and put down when we don’t.

I have a horrible habit of making more out of our rituals and rules than I should.  It is scary how quickly a gathering, a spiritual discipline, or a ministry can become a golden cow.  We have to guard against this by refusing to glorify the tools.  A hammer is simply a hammer.  Nothing more. 

These are the values that drive me.  What are yours?

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Clarifying My Voice

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