(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.com under the tab called “Blog”)
This touching base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.
This past week, the staff took a good hour to talk about what we are learning about our personal leadership, ministries, the work of God in our hearts, and the well-being of our souls by examining our surroundings. Some of the issues we reflected on, and questions we answered, were:
- Think of your ministry context, and even the broader context of Bethel, and list 3-5 things you are learning.
- What do these insights tell me about myself, my needed action steps, and the people I am leading?
- In light of my ministry context what are some needed initiatives, ministry priorities?
- What does it look like God is doing?
- What area needs more of my attention?
Why not (as a small group or alone) take some time to reflect on the above statements. Contextualise them for your world. If you are in a group, and as others share, ask clarifying questions, questions that will help all of you see deeper into issues. At the end of your time, pray for one another. Here were some of my personal observations.
One of my jobs as a leader is to help people see the problem. Oftentimes in church ministry, “success” is defined by “bucks, bodies and buildings”. These days, Bethel has all three. We have been blessed with generous people that help fund the work of the Church. We have seen many new people get on board and start taking part in our ministries. We have a very strategically-located building. So some can come to Bethel, look around and think we are successful. In many ways we are experiencing God’s blessing.
However, to use a sports analogy, the majority of people are still in the stands, far from God in the Kingston community, while the minority are on the field following Christ. How can we be content or seek to maintain the status quo when there is so much of a world yet to minister to? “NASA… we have a problem!” Leadership is partly about helping people see the problem and then engaging in a process of casting a vision that will address the problem.
I need to be careful that when something new goes on my plate that something else goes off the plate. Have you ever noticed that it is easy to keep adding to your to-do list without doing the hard work of elimination? The longer I stay at Bethel, the greater the temptation to start up something new, take on a new initiative, launch out on a new project… but never engage in the thoughtful process of elimination, either by delegating better or by just stopping doing something altogether. There are very few people who will ask you if your plate is too full. Most people have no problem adding one more item to the pile on your plate. I must guard this for myself. How about you?
My sensitivity to criticism escalates when that which is being criticised has become an idol in my life. Let’s face it, I am not a perfect leader, preacher, pastor, shepherd, friend, husband, father etc. etc. etc. As sure as the sun rises and sets, criticism will come one’s way, my way! I find that I do not process criticism well if I have made that thing- my preaching, leading etc an idol. If I am attempting to establish my significance in an unhealthy way through what I do, then I set myself up to be defensive when someone criticises my efforts. There is tremendous liberty in being able to listen and learn from those who have hard things to say. While Bethel has been a very encouraging place to serve, I know I must guard becoming an idolater.
We are all trying to figure out how to reach a world that has no time for God. In some ways I feel like the spiritual appetite among many people is greater than it has ever been. But the other side of that thought is that it also seems like increasing numbers of people have no time for God, the Church and His Word. We live in the best of times and what seems the worst of times, spiritually-speaking. I often walk the streets of Kingston praying and asking God how He wants to shape Bethel so that we will engage, challenge and change the culture in which we live. I feel like I am fumbling around and seeking His direction on how to do that personally in my neighbourhood and as a leader as I provide team leadership for Bethel. Any Church that is alive and attempting to keep in step with the Spirit is wrestling with this issue these days.
Depth of thinking, learning and faith comes from pondering the given, the obvious, the routine. One lesson I am learning over and over again is to be a better student of the obvious. Life is like Scripture, the more you study it the more you see. I think the temptation with our surroundings is to take them for granted when what we should be doing is poking questions at the obvious. This week, I was reading a brief article by one of my favourite authors, Gordon MacDonald. I was amazed at how many insights he gained by just sitting in a restaurant and observing people. He made a kaleidoscope of observations and insights, lost to most who live with an unobservant eye.
One of my challenges in leadership at Bethel is to make sure that the speed at which I live does not prevent me from seeing my world as God wants me to see it. To understand what I am talking about, next time you are driving through town look around and really see what you have driven by for perhaps years. Then walk that same route and note how much more you see. Speed makes all the difference in our ability to really see the world. What are you seeing these days?