For those who haven’t yet seen this … it’s pretty funny.  Actually I can relate … my wife and I still have bunny ears on top of our T.V.!

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It’s hard for leaders to rely on others.  They like being on the pedestal and feeling responsible for everyone.  It makes them feel needed and important. 

In Exodus 18 we see Moses taking on too much in his role as judge over the people of Israel.  Good ole’ Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, rebukes him saying, “What you are doing is not good.  You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you.  You are not able to do it alone” (Exod. 18:18).

Leaders can’t do it alone.  That’s clear in this text.  God drove this point home to me even further in a book I’m reading called, Organic Leadership.  As a leader I’m not only going to wear myself out if I try to do it alone, I’m also enabling the irresponsible behavior of others.  Neil Cole says,

As long as leaders continue to fulfill all roles of responsibility, the others will not be able to do what God has called them to do.

Do you see what he’s saying?  The bottleneck in God’s work within a church if often it’s leaders.  We need to be reminded of this daily.  Moses did.  You see, the ironic thing about this story in Exodus 18 is that one chapter earlier God used Moses’ outstretched hands to conquer his enemies.  Whenever he held up his hands, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek prevailed (Exod. 17:11).  But Moses’ hands grew tired and weary and so he had to rely on Aaron and Hur to hold up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side, in order to defeat Amalek.

Perhaps we can learn from Moses and visualize ourselves on a battlefield.  Just like Moses we must rely on others to hold up our hands in order to move forward and do what God has called us to do.  And just like Moses we must look for “able men who fear God” to help bear the burden of leadership.  The result?  I’ll let good ole’ Jethro tell you.

If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.  ~ Exodus 18:23

Could it be that one of God’s purposes in this recession is to reveal whether we are living in true community with one another as Christians?

In Acts 4:32-33, the early church is described as having “one heart and one soul” and God’s “grace was upon them all.”  They were truly a gospel-centered community.  But the evidence of their community is shown in the next verse.  Verse 34 says,

There was not a needy person among them …

Wow.  According to this verse, one way to guage whether we’re living in true community is if anyone is needy in our body.  Jesus said that all people will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.  Loving one another includes sharing our money with those who are needy, perhaps those who have just lost their job.  Contrary to Cain’s response in Gen. 4, we are our brother’s keeper.  We all are connected to one another.  So, we of all people ought to hold onto our money and resources with an open hand and give to those who need it more than we do.

John Piper sums up the challenge of this recession with a word to the church:

[In these days ahead] God will test to see if we are a church or a club. 

  • Read Piper’s sermon, “What is the Recession for?”

From creation to revelation we see that God is on mission.  His mission is to restore a broken humanity into a new community–a community that ultimately reflects the relationship he has with himself in the Trinity.   Tim Chester says,

In the church we are striving with the Spirit’s help to express the plurality and unity of God; to be the one and the many without comprimising either.

We are called as a community on earth to reflect the relationship God has with himself eternally.  We are a preview of heaven; and yet our community is not yet completed.  We are on a mission to bring others into this community, and the way we do that is through our common relationship and partnership in the gospel.

Relationship

When we gave our lives to Jesus we were immediately brought into the family of God.  We have one Father who unites us together as brothers and sisters in Christ.  Within the framework of this family we are called to do life together.  We are called to live out the many “one anothers” of Scripture because of our common relationship in Christ.  This relationship is a picture of the relationship God has within the Trinity.

Partnership

When we gave our lives to Jesus, we were immediately joined to Jesus and to each other.  Just like a body we are connected to each other.  Romans 12::5 says, “In Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  The purpose of this partnership is to first build up the body in love (Eph. 4:16) and then promote the gospel to the world (Mt. 5:16).  In so doing, we will reflect the beauty, the unity and diversity of the Trinity.

What does this look like practically?

It means that we stop thinking of our community as merely a horizantal, social activity.  Rather we should start thinking of our community as a vertical, reflection of the Trinity.  We are a living drama of the divine community!  That means that when we’re worshiping together, serving together, or even hanging out together, we are imaging forth the relational nature of God’s being.   We are giving the world a snapshot of heaven–indeed, a snapshot of our heavenly King.  What a joy it should be for us to live under the good rule and reign of King Jesus.  And this joy and love should be seen in our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.  We must make the invisible Trinity visible through our community!

A Daunting Task?

Becoming a community who reflects the love of the Trinity seems like a daunting task for the church today.  It’s very similar to a husband and wife being told that their marriage is a living picture of Christ’s relationship with the church.  Daunting, indeed!  It should bring me to my knees in prayer … all the while remembering Jesus’ prayer for the church in John 17:21.

that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  

  • Read Tim Chester’s great article, “The Trinity and Humanity”
  • Read Total Church, by Chester and Timmis
Sean O’Hagan spent 18 months following U2, from Fez to Dublin, as they recorded their album No Line On the Horizon.  At one point, O’Hagan asked Bono about the album’s last lines:
Choose your enemies carefully, ‘cause they will define you/ Make then interesting, because in some ways they will mind you/ They’re not there in the beginning, but when your story ends/ Gonna last longer with you than your friends.

Bono “Yeah. Yeah. They’re are going to be closer than your friends. They are going to shape you.”

SOH Are you singing from experience here?

Bono “In a way, I guess. I think one of the things that has set our band apart is the fact that we chose interesting enemies. We didn’t choose the obvious enemies – The Man, the establishment. We didn’t buy into that. Our credo was: no them, there’s only us. Think about it. Every other band was us and them. The Clash, our great heroes. Then U2 arrived and it was no them, only us. 

“What that means is that we picked enemies that were more internal – our own hypocrisy. The main obstacle in the way of our band we always saw as ourselves and our limitations. We never blamed the record company. We never blamed the radio [laughs]. You never heard that from us in 25 years. It was always, can we be better? Can we make the song better, the show? What you’re really dealing with then are the obstacles to realising your own potential. They are nearly always of a psychological, if not a spiritual, nature. The spectres that hold you back, they were our enemies. It was always, ‘You’re supposed to be in a rock’n’roll band. You’re supposed to be rebellious, but you don’t rebel against the obvious.’ And we’d go, ‘No, we don’t. That’s the point.’”

Yesterday our senior pastor asked us to turn in our Bibles to the book of Habakkuk.  He just started a series on this book last week.  You could hear the pages flip as everyone tried to find it.  Meanwhile, Jaime turned to Emie, our 6 year old, and asked if she could find it.  About 10 seconds later she had flipped to Habakkuk and handed the Bible back to her mom.  I looked at my wife with amazement as I kept fumbling to find the book myself!  Emie had learned the OT books this year and had a big smile on her face knowing she had found Habakkuk before her Daddy!

This quote humbled me big time today:

There is something deeply spiritual about honoring the limitations of our lives and the boundaries of what God has given us to do as leaders. Narcissistic leaders are always looking beyond their sphere of influence with visions of grandiosity far out of proportion to what is actually being given. Living within our limits means living within the finiteness of who we are as individuals and as a community- the limits of time and space, the limits of our physical, emotional, relational and spiritual capacities, the limits of our stage of life… and the limits of the calling God has given. It means doing this and not that. It means doing this much and not more.” – Ruth Haley Barton

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I tend to live in the future.  I’m a dreamer.  I have “visions of grandiosity” and sometimes forget what is right in front of me.  While taking time to dream is important, I want to “live within the limits of the calling God has given me.” 

(HT: Todd Heistand)

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