Friday, 22 November 2013

Zero Affirming People

One of the malaises that seems to be in our culture, and even in our churches, is a general lack of pro-active encouragement. It is possible for someone to serve whole-heartedly week in and week out with barely a sole giving the simplest thankyou for their effort. A minister might get thanked for their contribution, but many others may receive next to nothing.

I'm not sure if it is just part of this malaise or whether it is a deeper issue for certain characters, but I have also learnt that there are some who just never seem to offer any affirmation. Its not that they are impolite, they just don't take the opportunity to highlight the good that another person has done, or encourage them in some way. I'll call them 'Zero Affirming People', or 'ZAPs' for short.

Don't get me wrong. They may be nice people. Easy to get along with, active and whole-hearted in their own service. Yet they simply just don't go out of their way to affirm people - even when an opportunity is presented to them square on 'nothing' is the 'obvious something' that is forthcoming.

Paul demonstrates a different model. Note how many of his letters start by talking about giving thanks for the recipients. For the Thessalonians it is a repeated mantra (at least 3 times across the two letters). Paul seems to go out of his way to affirm people - praising God for them and letting them know that he is praising God for them.

To affirm is a godly thing to do. It is surely a required leadership characteristic too. For this reason I must conclude that ZAPs will not make good leaders.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Its God's Job to Establish the Leaders

Joshua's appearance in the exodus story seems to be as a tag-along-youth. Sticking with Moses he got to go up the mountain (Exodus 24), experiencing the presence of God. Even at that young age he became a key military leader, and was in the initial spy unit.

Decades later God instructs Moses to commission him for leadership beyond Moses' own time (Numbers 27). He gets plenty of encouragement to 'be strong and courageous', to take the Israelites forward into the promised land.

Yet God has an even greater thing in store - in Joshua 3:7 the Lords says he will begin to 'exalt' Joshua in the eyes of the people. This will truly confirm him as the successor to Moses (which would have been a hard act to follow!).

The commissioning and the establishment thus come from God. Its the job of the other leaders and the people in general to recognise that and affirm it.

So lets keep an eye out for those who are having a go at getting involved, and who are seeking with us God's presence. In time, God will affirm, establish, and show who He has invested with the 'spirit of leadership' (Numbers 27:18). Our job is to then go with that. From there it will be further works of God that confirms the thinking, enabling everyone to see and be confident in what God is doing through the emergent leader.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Church Isn't For You

This blog about marriage is going viral on Facebook at the moment. Its a great read, and makes an excellent point: marriage is about the person you married. Rather than self, marriage is an expression of giving oneself for another.

Talking about this today a wise colleague pointed out that the same concept should apply to church: Church isn't for you!

His thinking in a nutshell is that rather than joining a church for what you can get (the worship, the teaching, the fellowship with like-minded others etc.), it is about the person you are effectively marrying (i.e. Jesus) and his purposes.

Since Jesus' purposes are about the whole of humanity (in fact the whole of creation), that is going to mean you join the church for an outward focus: going out to the lost one rather than the ninety-nine etc. etc. Yes, the truth is church really isn't for you!

And as with the original marriage blog post there is the same paradox. As we spend ourselves for Jesus and his purposes the more we receive. Sure, there will be those times when we are net receivers. Certainly in those pre-wedding days of unbelief where your local church reaches out to you, which also extend into that early period of new faith and nurture.

Yet as you grow to love Jesus and his church you should transition to a new understanding of the body of believers around you: the church isn't for you!