Category Archives: LEADERSHIP

Self-Leadership

Lagos 034Self-leadership is my most significant challenge of any sort of leadership. In order to be effective at family, team or organizational leadership, adequate self-leadership is a non-negotiable.

There are many facets to self-leadership—always being a learner, constantly acquiring skills and practices for increased effectiveness, understanding people better, and developing as a strategist and implementer. However, before all of those—foundational to everything else you are and will ever do—is the daily practice of walking with God in authentic intimacy. Quite frankly, I have found this to be the greatest challenge of self-leadership.

We can fake things for a while. We can run on spiritual fumes for a season. We can be quite adept at putting on a mask of spiritual respectability. But, we are only on borrowed time if we do not feed our soul, allow God to challenge and transform us, and daily walk the life of risk-taking crazy faith. King David learned this the hard way. After his wayward escapade with Bathsheba and eventually coming face-to-face with the ugliness of his sin, he recognized what he was missing. It is delineated in Psalm 51. Remember verse 10? “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” David finally understood that fallen people inadvertently slip away from God where intentional intimacy is overlooked.

I have been in the role of leading Converge missions for five years. I’m deeply privileged to do this. I would be untruthful, however, if I told you it was easy. And it’s not easy spiritually, either. As a pastor (and I loved being a pastor), I would spend two hours a day in the Word seeking God for spiritual truths I could pass along. As I did this, I was changed and transformed weekly. I met God again and again in astounding ways. Besides this, I would see the fruit of my work all the time—people changed, families renewed, new births weekly, kudos and warm fuzzies from congregants. Not anymore. I rarely see what my work produces and will need to wait until eternity to have even a close idea. I also find it extremely challenging to find time to bask in the Word and let God speak to me deeply. So much has changed. It is stretching me.

This may be a little of a confession time. I have not figured out a good rhythm of self-leadership in this unique role I’m in. I’m working on it and I’m committed to it, though, because I know that it is essential. I will never become who God intends for me without exercising this dimension of self-leadership. I will never accomplish what God intends for me to accomplish without living with an ongoing spiritual vitality. Neither will you.

Gary Thomas has written a book called “Sacred Pathways” in which he presents nine primary ways that people significantly connect with God. Those pathways are described as the Naturalist, Sensate, Traditionalist, Ascetic, Activist, Caregiver, Enthusiast, Contemplative, and Intellectual. We each have at least one primary and one secondary way that we worship and are transformed by God.

I have learned that if I regularly engage in my two primary sacred pathways as an Intellectual and Naturalist, it elevates the quality of my self-leadership significantly. I find myself regularly transformed by my interactions with God. It changes my life, always for the better. Knowing this, it then becomes a matter of personal discipline to be sure I regularly engage in these types of experiences with the Lord.

I encourage you to discover your sacred pathways and engage regularly in those. Lead yourself well. It sets you up for raving success in every other arena of life.

We Think of the Second Coming…

While we talk about the second coming of Jesus, much of the world has never heard of the first.

0709150402~22000 years after Jesus gave us the commission to disciple the nations, there are still over 6000 unreached people groups in the world. There are three primary reasons for this current reality:

    • The task is simply that big
    • We have been belligerently disobedient
    • We have been distracted and unfocused

Until a few years ago, we didn’t understand the size and complexity of the “every ethnos” task. The people groups are actually still being identified in their entirety, so for over 1950 years, the church didn’t really understand depth of God’s intention to reach every single people group in the world. But make no mistake, God intends that “every people, nation, tribe and tongue” is represented before the throne of God some day.

IMG_5987Belligerent disobedience has been a factor through the ages. The church has often decided to follow it’s own agenda rather than God’s. It has been guilty of building it’s own little kingdoms rather than God’s Kingdom. It has had seasons of carnality and lacked the Spirit’s leading and empowerment. This has kept the church from pushing the mission forward.

We have also been distracted and unfocused and is often the case in this current era. We can do lots of good things, but not the right things. We can even be involved in what we call missions, but it’s not actually a part of “discipling the nations.” It takes intense focus and intentionality to effectively engage in bringing the nations to Christ.

I’m so excited about the fresh initiatives in Converge International Ministries:

  • The Spice Island Initiative which will bring the gospel to dozens ofIMG_5783 people groups who have never heard a credible presentation of the gospel. We plan to send 100 missionaries there in the next ten years–each one working with nationals on the front lines who will do the critical work of  evangelism and church planting.
  • The fresh focus on Thailand (0.01% Christian) with the goal of starting 15 new English schools there in the next 15 years. This strategy has a greater goal of starting many churches among the least reached people of this country.
  • New leadership in Europe is setting the stage for an intense increase in so much of what we do there. We are confident that the years ahead will establish hundreds of new churches and thousands of new believers in some of the most godless regions of this continent.

Our priority in Converge is to reach the least reached. Come join us in this great cause. Write to us at missions@converge.org.

 

 

The Power of One

One person can make a tremendous impact on the world. This can be really good, or it can be exceptionally bad.

Nigeria School Girls abductionI was reminded yesterday of how one evil person can affect millions of lives. The Boko Haram of Africa (their name literally means, “western education is a sin”) is one of the most brutal, twisted, evil terrorist groups on earth right now. Their most visible actions of late have been in Nigeria where they have killed hundreds in group bombings the last few weeks (1500 so far this year) and have kidnapped 276 young school girls that they intend to sell as sex slaves. “They should be home and getting married not learning in a school,” their leader, Abubakar Muhammad Shekau declared. “I enjoy killing anyone that God commands me to kill the way I enjoy killing chickens and rams.”

All of Nigeria and surrounding nations are deeply affected by this madman and his followers. The US military is now stepping in to lend assistance in dealing with the situation. And ministers of the gospel from all over the world are in danger because of this fanatical group. Most of my day yesterday was taken up dealing with the fallout on our global partners in this region of the world.

It’s a frightening demonstration of the power of one.

It also demonstrates how much one could positively influence the world. Our best example, of course, is Jesus. One man, global impact, eternal consequences for all of history. We are potentiated to do “even greater things.” We have been given the mind of Christ, the power of the Spirit, and the wisdom from above. Of course, we don’t decide that we’re going to be a global force of one, but simply live in faithfulness today. Our diligence in the small things increasingly lead us into opportunities in bigger things. But there is tremendous potential in each one of us for significant influence, whether locally, regionally, nationally, or globally. The point is to be faithful today, tomorrow, and the next day. And just keep doing that.

A few who left their marks on the world are the apostle Paul, Martin Luther, William Carey, and Billy Graham. Don’t be discouraged by this list. We’re not called to be any one of them, but we are called to have the greatest influence possible in our corner of the world.

It reminds us of the power of one. It can be for evil and destruction. It can also be for good and God’s glory. Let’s be powerful today.

 

Resourcing for Effectiveness

In Converge International Ministries, we are committed to effectiveness and excellence. We want to sure to develop high potential strategies, deploy carefully assessed and prepared missionaries, and then provide life-giving encouragement and support through all their years of service.

IMLT 2014Our 4th International Ministries Value is that we Resource for Effectiveness.

We strive to eliminate the barriers to success for all of our personnel. A lack of leadership, finances, tools, ministry partners, and more will keep us from reaching our greatest degree of influence. We are committed to developing and implementing systems of support that will enable us to reach our maximum degree of influence.

“If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously,” Romans 12:7-8. Most simply, the point is, for whatever God has gifted and called you to do, do it really well.

We are currently developing The Leadership Pipeline which will encourage and stimulate our global partners everywhere to continue developing as leaders in their personal life, professional/ministry life, and family life. If we are healthy and continue to grow in these areas, there is a high probability that we will become increasingly more effective in the calling that God has entrusted to us.

For the Glory of God and for the salvation of lost people, we resource for effectiveness.

Being Results Oriented

At Converge Worldwide, we believe that our mission efforts should result in individuals saved, leaders deployed, churches started and strengthened. Activity without effectiveness dishonors God. With grace, understanding the uniqueness of each ministry setting, we will hold one another accountable for what we said we would achieve.

IMG_2526 (800x600)Our fourth Converge International Ministries value is that we are results oriented.

The early church set the precedent of celebrating great results! They even recorded those results in Scripture for all to see throughout history. “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. Barnabas…exhorted them…and a great many people were added to the Lord. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people.” Acts 11:21-26 Why is this stated? Because results matter to God.

Two primary realities form this value:

  1. We are commanded to the specific task of making disciples and need to help one another to do this well. Activity is not productivity. I once had a youth pastor who was so busy all the time that he lived his daily life at a feverish pitch, but he produced very little. Upon inspecting his work habits, I discovered that he never identified the priority of activities that would push him toward his goals. He just thought that a good minister was a really busy minister. The last thing we want are busy, tired, stressed out, and ineffective missionaries. We are implementing systems and relationships that will help us constantly move toward greater effectiveness in the Great Cause appointed to us.
  2. We are expected to be good stewards of all that God entrusts to us. When a church or individual sacrifices to support a Converge missionary, we want to be sure that they have made a very good investment. Systematic encouragement and accountability for our global ministers will enable their talents, skills, experiences, and spiritual gifts to be leveraged toward their greatest influence.

We are results oriented because we don’t just want to do good things, but the right things.

Strategies of Multiplication

Addition will never accomplish the great commission. That’s why in Converge International Ministries, our #3 Value is to pursue strategies of multiplication.Bangkok group (2)

Addition is always needed to begin movements. Jesus added disciples in the early days of His ministry. In the first church, “the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved,” Acts 2:47.  For years, missionaries needed to focus on addition because multiplication was not possible on so many newly engaged fields. We still have numerous missionaries that live an incarnational ministry—to be like Jesus in cross-cultural settings, gathering a few disciples in order to eventually begin a strategy of multiplication. These ought to be applauded, supported, prayed for, and celebrated. Unfortunately, these are often the missionaries whose support is withdrawn because there is so little fruit. At times, addition is desperately needed.

Our International Ministries’ goal, however, is to pursue multiplication in all places and ways possible. Paul stated to Timothy, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also,” 2 Timothy 2:2. Our missionaries are charged with implementing strategies of multiplication whenever and however they can. Our high priority is the raising up of indigenous leaders among least reached peoples who will do the work of ministry in their contexts much better than a Westerner could do. Our strategies of multiplication are producing hundreds of equipped leaders in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Multiplication is one of God’s best methods for impact and scope of transformation.

 

This One Thing

Wolof peopleJesus told us to “go and make disciples.” This is really clear. We know what we’re supposed to be doing while He’s away. Still, we sometimes get confused or distracted — or insert our own agendas.

He didn’t say make decisions. Sure, a decision is needed as the first step in becoming a disciple, but it must go way beyond that. As long as we embrace the fact that the decision is only the first step of many, we can press on in disciple-making.

He didn’t say plant churches. Planting churches is good–as long as the ultimate objective is that we’re making disciples. In Converge’s global efforts, we are planting lots of churches — actually, thousands of them. This is good, especially since we believe this is the best method of making disciples like Jesus told us. But, if we’re planting churches for the sake of planting churches , we’re just giving ourselves good opportunities to produce impressive videos, tell attention-getting stories, or enable us to brag about our “impact.”

Jesus didn’t say that we are to make people happy, give them a better life, teach them lots of information (He actually told us to teach them to “observe everything I have taught you”), have lots of programs, or impressive theological schools. None of these are bad in themselves, but any of these must never be our ultimate focus in life and ministry.

Jesus told us to “go and make disciples.”

Pretty simple, but we still have a lot of work to do. Let’s get back at it.

Fear and Faith

Authentic biblical faith is what enables us to overcome fear. Fear paralyzes us from significantly following after God. Fear is the number one thing that keeps us from being and becoming everything that God has in mind for you–the fear of failure, fear that God’s way won’t be as good as yours, fear that something tragic will happen, fear that God won’t come through like He says He will, fear that God won’t provide, fear of pain, fear of what others think.

We have a nation filled with Christians who are living an acceptable lifestyle, according to the standards of many churches today. We measure our Christianity according to the expectations of our Christian culture and fellow believer-friends. Many of us measure up quite well. But how does God see you? Are you living a lifestyle of risk-taking faith? Are you crazy for God? Would others say you are?

The Priority of Missions

A common trend in evangelical Christianity today is the movement toward holistic ministry. This orientation has a few noticeable characteristics:

  • The commitment to the lost and the poor are of equal standing–and may even favor the poor over the lost.
  • This theological view includes what we can do for others as “gospel” also, clouding the clarity of the gospel as being what Jesus has done for us.
  • It sees holistic social work as valid in and of itself apart from the responsibility of disciple making.

Yes–it is important that we are the face, hands, and presence of Jesus around the world. We must often meet the urgent needs in order to address the greatest need. We cannot ignore the human condition. But what a temptation we face in going with the flow of a trendy mission focus that reduces us to doing good things at the expense of the right thing. Only the church can offer the ultimate solution to mankind’s greatest problem of separation from God.

Available statistics reveal that from 2001 to 2005, giving toward relief and development increased by 73.4%, while for evangelism and discipleship is was only 2.7%, (Christopher R. Little, Discovering the Mission of God, p.492).young woman Numbers speak. I also have personally seen this well-intended trend all across the nation, expressed through some of our most respected churches. In our pursuit of being relevant and “current”, we may have strayed from the one thing Jesus has told us to do in His absence — to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

 

 

 

Physical and Spiritual Progressions

I’ve noticed that my spiritual progression often reflects my age progression. Here’s what I mean — as I grow older as an adult…

  • I tend to be more lethargic. As a young man, when evenings came, I was energized to do something fun or adventuresome. Today, I tend to be very happy to find a comfortable chair and chill.
  • I am more easily pleased. As a child, I would often look for the next adventure on a hillside, in a grove, or in an old barn hay-loft. Today, my first inclination is to say, “nah.”
  • I have become more rational. As a college student, I was the prankmeister any chance I got, simply because it was a chance to make a memory and have some fun. Today…it just doesn’t make sense to do those things any more.
  • I tend to be more sophisticated. Years ago, I didn’t care what others thought of what I did. Today, I lean towards protecting my “reputation” and making sure I don’t look too foolish in what I do.

As these realities pursue me physically and psychologically, they also influence on my spiritual condition.

  • I tend to be more lethargic by not being quite as hungry and thirsty for righteousness as I was when I was younger.
  • I am more easily pleased as I rest on where I’m at rather than where God wants to bring me.
  • I have become more rational as bold risk-taking adventures are more easily dismissed than they were in my more formative years.
  • I tend to be more sophisticated in my faith rather than living out a raw cutting edge lifestyle of pursuing Jesus no matter what I look like or what others think.

ivansusancruise2013But Jesus said, “Unless you become like children, you can not enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all.”

Childlike faith, enthusiasm, sense of adventure, and wholesome recklessness are still highly valued characteristics that God longs to see in us.

I want to  stay hungry and thirsty for God in ways that drive me to true righteousness rather than settling for an acceptable respectability.

I want be energized for God-honoring adventures, to live out risk-taking faith, exuberant to see God-things happen because I stepped out of my predictable routine.

No matter how old I become, I want my spiritual progress to be unhindered by the plights of lethargy, comfort, rationalization, and sophistication.