Me?! Are you kidding?

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9And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” 13Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”   Exodus 3:9-14

No doubt Moses believed something needed to be done to rescue the children of Israel from slavery. No doubt he thought it was awful. But he also knew this would be no easy task. He knew getting a hearing from the people of Israel and Pharaoh would be difficult.

He was not sure he was God’s go-to-guy.

In order to lead, leaders have to believe they can make a difference. Whether you are leading a work team with a project or a discipleship group with a vision of life change, you must believe you can make a difference. Moses was not sure he could make the difference. But if he was sent by one who could then perhaps he could lead.

Moses did not need the power to make a difference to be fully located in him. But he did need to know that The Power to make a difference was really sending him. The task — bring the people of Israel out of Egypt was bigger than Moses could have imagined. Because once “out of Egypt” Moses had to lead them into a life with God that would get the “Egypt” out of them. But now, Moses had to know he had access to God and so he asks, “Who do I say is sending me.”

God’s answer blows the doors off small and regional mentality of power. He says, “I AM — I Who was, Who is, and Who will be” is sending you.

Jesus calls His followers into a life of difference making. It flows first from knowing Him and being changed by Him. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” He’s got the power. “All authority!”

Is it possible that our resistance to leading, giving, and serving may really be a product of our perpetually small view of God and not of ourselves?

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Getting over our cults of personality.

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1But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? 5What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.  1 Corinthians 3:1-9

 

We’ve all got “personality.” Great leaders have personality too. Their confidence makes them seem larger than life. Servants of Jesus who are also great leaders point people to Jesus and not to themselves. The Apostle Paul is battling the cult of personality built into the fabric of Corinthian society. He lays out a new perspective for them.

 

  1. These leaders are servants of Jesus.
  2. Each leader has an assignment from Jesus.
  3. Each leader has relationships with the church given by Jesus.
  4. As each leader does their part, God gives the growth.
  5. Each leader answers to God.
  6. The servants of Jesus are fellow workers in God’s Field, In God’s Building working with God. So the church is not “their’s;” its God’s.

 

 

The Rubble, The Babble, and The Spirit

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4And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” 6Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. 7Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”

8Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 9“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 10For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.  Zechariah 4:1-10

Small beginnings.

Zerubbabel was tasked by God with what seemed impossible: rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem from the large pile of rubble, a mountain of rubble, currently occupying its former space. His small beginnings were an object of contempt among his detractors. But God awakened Zechariah to encourage Zerubbabel to continue laying out the stones so that he could choose the cornerstone that would set the foundation and the walls of the temple.

God’s grace.

Large tasks and visions have their temptations. The leader is tempted to rely on her own wits, authority, and power. While these require skill and political awareness. The spiritual leader called by God has an ultimate point of reliance. The spiritual leader relies on the Spirit of God. God says, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.”
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His disciples. Jesus fully intends to build His church. Therefore He continues to give “impossible” tasks to His disciples. But He gives His Word. And He gives His Spirit as our Helper.

26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.John 15:26

 

6But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.7Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.8And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;10concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;11concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.15All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  John 16:6-15

Dreams from the heart of God

What’s the great mountain standing between you and the dream God has put in your heart? Last weekend Origin Church explored God’s Word to Zerubbable as a word for us. In our spiritual journey we believe disciples are graced with dreams of Jesus’ work in the lives of people. Every great dream has small beginnings. We must not despise the day of small beginnings. Although we bring all we’ve got we do not rely on ourselves as the ultimate force. Spiritual leaders rely on the Spirit of God “to build the house.” God brings the grace that fully exceeds our strengths and our weakness.

Here’s our encouragement: God says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit.”

 

Still Going

Permanent.

I’m thankful to live in a place with four season! Watching the cycle of life so clearly is a good reminder. In my garden the tomatoes are almost done. My zucchini finished, days ago. Its time to put in some winter greens.

Leadership too has its cycles.

When I listen to leaders at a transition point I hear their yearning for a legacy. Leave a legacy. This can be problematic. The prophet Isaiah was confronted with legacies that were not all that great. In fact he lamented the destruction of his nation. So God brings their attention to what is truly permanent.

Isaiah 40:6-8
6A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

When the music fades… the word of our God will stand forever.
Christian leadership points to the lasting word of God and creates environments where disciples can build their lives on God’s Word.

half-naked skateboarders and university professors

This past weekend one of my kids turned thirteen.  My stressor was how to turn a UBC campus scavenger hunt into an epic event for thirteen year old boys.  Turns out the weather took care of that for me.  It poured!  We scavenged.

Along the way, my son says they ran into a skateboarder making his way across the campus with his shirt in hand.  As he sailed past them he cried out, “Hey young ones, what are you doing out here?”  An appropriate question.

Its the question that university professors should be asking.  “Hey young ones, what are you doing out here?”

Buried within the text of David Suzuki’s 1989 publication, Inventing the Future, is an article entitled, “Prostituting Academia.”  His concerns voiced 22 years ago are just as relevant today.  The article raises a question for me:  Are tenured professors meant to be the voice of conscience for the university?

Are tenured professors uniquely positioned to be able to ask us all, “Hey young ones, what are you doing out here?”  To do so, though, in an age of competitive funding from business, industry and government may cause them to loose their shirts.  Are they willing to loose  their shirts and call out to us, “Hey what you are you doing out here?”

Here’s an excerpt from David Suzuki’s article:

I don’t deny a role for university faculty in the application of new ideas.  Our top-notch people are Canada’s eyes and ears to the world’s research, and good people will have ideas that can eventually be exploited.  But the deliberate and urgent push to economic payoff distorts scholarship within the university and subverts its thrust to the will of those who have the money.  Profit and destruction are the major reasons for the application of science today, while environmental and social costs are seldom seriously addressed.  That’s why we need scholars who are detached from those applications.

I remain a faculty member of UBC and because I care so much for the university I am compelled to speak out in criticism.  Tenure confers the obligation to do so.

I don’t condone but can understand why university scientists, who have been underfunded for so long, are welcoming the Faustian bargain with private industry.  But I fail to comprehend why philosophers, historians and sociologists who should know better are acquiescing so easily.

The headlong rush to industrialize the university signals the implicit acceptance of many assumptions that have in the past been questioned by academics themselves.  For example, free enterprise, like most economic systems is based on the unquestioned necessity for steady growth–growth in GNP, consumption and consumer goods.

Steady incremental growth within a given interval is called “exponential growth,” and any scientist knows that nothing in the universe grows exponentially indefinitely.  Yet economists, business people and politicians assume the explosive increase in income, consumer goods and GNP (and inflation) of the past decades must be maintained to sustain our quality of life.  Historians know that this growth is an aberration, a blip that must inevitably stop and reverse itself.  But how can the fallacy of maintainable exponential growth be seriously challenged when the university is busy selling the myth that it can maintain such growth?

Scholars in universities represent tiny islands of thought in society.  They are sufficiently detached from the priorities of various interest groups like business, government and the military to point out flaws in our current social truths.  But by focussing on issues that are socially relevant or economically profitable, we lose sight of the broader context within which that activity falls; we forget history; we become blind to the environmental and social costs of our innovations.”  p. 75-76