Thursday, January 26, 2006

Too much “doing”, not enough “being.”

[Today’s chapel was good, but the notes were more “conceptual” and would not serve well to post here (I anticipate this to happen at times). What follows could be considered a “rant”, something that has been eating at me for a while and I hereby publish it including one principle from today’s chapel at “the bottom line.”]

Every once in a while I will meet a guy who gets right to the point: reciting his resume and laying out his plan. This bothers me because this guy is a leader of some kind: a pastor, an assistant pastor, an elder or missionary. This bothers me because our conversation occurs because he needs something and is determined to find the quickest way to get it. I’ve observed some features that cause be great concern as it relates to leadership.

First, recitation of one’s resume is the first step of manipulation--the guy wants something I have access to and ''will" get it. I'm supposed to be impressed or intimidated; either way, I am expected to deliver. This is not leadership. This is foolishness. There is no wisdom in this. This is bullying and other bleepable words that good Christians should not say (much less think). Besides, I don't like to be manipulated, professionally or otherwise. I feel like telling the guy, “so what? I don't care what you've done, but I can tell it's affected who you are.”

Having "done my time" in the business world, I expect this kind of attitude and behavior from salesmen and executives of the world because money is the idol object. But when pastors and missionaries act like this, I worry. I worry because invariably one of two things happens, in no particular order:

1) They tell me (directly or indirectly) they are very, very busy; and,
2) They stop listening.

Right now I am looking at the January 2006, Volume 19, Issue 5 edition of ''Lad" magazine, a missions magazine for boys in Royal Ambassadors. On page 8 is an activity made of 7 cartoon images of a ''missionary" doing different things. One picture is of a woman reading the Bible. Another is of folded hands, prayer. The rest is of someone watching TV, eating, skiing, jumping rope, doing math. The Lad is to figure out how the missionary spends her time. "Draw a circle around the activity you think the missionary likes to do."

I’ve been shocked to hear missionaries and pastors say there was no time for personal Bible study and prayer because the ministry is too consuming. I wondering what he was doing on the field because, he just too busy. Leaders are being trained to run their ministries like businesses and it is killing them. And their ministries.

The second feature I've notices is that as I continue meeting people in various levels of ministry I continue to hear more resumes and more busy-ness, “just do whatever it takes to get to the bottom line.” No conversation occurs becuase they have either stopped listening or never started to begin with. Our rhetoric occurs (this is what conversation is reduced to) because they want to add more to their resumes, expecting me to do something to help them. When I explain what I have to offer, I put information in their hands. Nine and a half times out of ten I have to re-explain and re-explain and re-explain. And call back. And answer e-mails. And re-explain over and over. They want product via short cuts and are too consumed with trying to add one more spinning plate to an already wobbling rack, they dare not stop to think lest it all come crashing down. I'm a nice guy, I like to help, but I can't help someone who already has an agenda.

I get frustrated, andI worry. I worry because the last thing they need is one more thing in the schedule. I worry because they don't listen. I worry, because one principle of leadership is, "leadership is not manipulation." The people they lead must be suffering because they must be overscheduled and ignored.

I recently had a conversation with a Student Pastor (ministry to Junior and Senior High Schoolers) who told me he really had no interest in people, he just wanted to give more conferences. He had no interest in ministry or missions, he just wants to help people through giving speeches. My heart sank and I actually felt quite sick about this. Understand that he was certain to give me his professional pedigree and let me know how he deserved what I have to offer in the shortest time possible (our schedule was just not good enough for him—we are supposed to accommodate him).

I am tempted to delve into articles and books and banter more fully with leadership concepts being thrust upon people who are forgetting there is a Holy Spirit, who are forgetting how to pray and read the Bible, but I will not. A.W. Tozer gets right to the heart of the matter:

“Human nature being what it is, the man of God may soon adopt an air of constant piety and try to appear what the public thinks he is. The fixed smile and hollow tones of the professional cleric are too well known to require further mention. All this show of godliness, by the squeeze of circumstances and through no fault of the man himself, may become a front behind which the man hides, a plaintive, secretly iscouraged and lonely soul. Here is no hypocrisy, no intentional double living, no actual desire to deceive. The man has been mastered by the circumstances. He has been made the keeper of other people's vineyards but his own vineyard has not been kept. So many demands have been made upon him that they have long ago exhausted his supply. He has been compelled to minister to others while he himself is in desperate need of a physician.”[i]

Jesus said plainly, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Spend some time here if you are thinking about leadership. Here’s what I see:

Follow Me.
Follow Me and I will make you.
Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.

Bottom line: there is too much “doing” and not enough “being”. Who I am determines what I do. God tells me who I am—have I heard? Do I believe it? You have to answer that for yourself.

Wnat to learn about leadership? Look at people who led and didn't want to--the leaders God made.

  • Don't go looking for which Bible person you "are" because you are not someone else. You are you. God already used them. How is He going to use you?
  • Don't go looking for which leadership style you are because there is only one: obedient.

[i] Tozer, A.W. God Tells the Man Who Cares. Harrisburg: Christian Publications, c1970.

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