Social Volume

There is so much noise.

Facebook, twitter, pinterest, bbc and then the latest youtube share. If you and a million others like it then it could change the world!

The social noise is loud and literally mind numbing. I am not wanting to socially disconnect, I just wonder how much of it I can really connect with authentically. Just because I don’t click “like” does not be I don’t care.

In leadership there is also a lot of noise. Everyone has an opinion and their is a need for their position to be “liked”. But what does the leader do when presented with a range of opinions?

Jesus somehow managed to cut through the noise and speak what’s needed. When the voices shouted loudly about the women caught in adultery, Jesus’ insight is, “he who is without sin should cast the first stone”.

Silence.

Then the thud of stones dropping to the ground and the pad of religious feet.

Jesus cuts through the noise and highlights her accusers sin but also challenges here to “go and sin no more”.

In all that is shared, knowing what’s important is the challenge. The same is true in leadership, the challenge is to know what’s really important in the midst of a lot of noise.

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Change is here to stay

Often people fear change. The familiarity of an event or place provide comfort and security. But change is constant.

If you don’t believe it try holding your breath.

Yes as some point you had to breath. New air into you body, cell dying and growing. You can help but change because you are alive.

In the local church the prevailing culture is often that of maintaining things as they are. Keeping the worship as it alway has been, whatever that was. Making sure the building is preserved for future generations. Even sitting in the same places each week.

The problem with this as in any organisation is that things are suppose to grow. This is especially true of the church which is not about about a building but a living body of people. Living things grow or they die. That mean change for the church is here to stay.

Lets be practical for a moment about how this change occurs and the routes a leader takes in bringing change.

Route one. Consult, and plan for gradual change.

The danger here is that by the time it has been implemented the church will have died and society moved on.

Route two. See a different future (vision) and start to walk towards it right now.

The danger is that some people will not like it and will leave. This has to be OK otherwise we would never get much done. The fruit is often that the people who did not want the change in the first place will come round it time. Great news because now you have moved things on and some of those who where slow on the take up have come with you rather than died.

Lastly and most importantly, follow the Holy Spirit and his timing. If he is in it then change will be fruitful.

The Focus of Leadership

Leadership in the local church is often problematic. You are largely working with a volunteer organisation, often with little resource and in the current climate are not much valued by society. To make matters worse, leadership in the local church is often lonely. So what are the key things that can make a leader effective even in difficult circumstances?

Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. John 13:3 NLT

Know the focus of your leadership

What is it that you have been asked to lead and what are the boundaries? Seek to work within those limits rather that fight against things that you have not been charged with. Frustrations over things that are beyond your control will not make for fruitfulness. Jesus understood that he had been given authority, clearly our patch is smaller, but he also chose to exercise this authority inline with identity and vision.

Know the focus of your identity

If our identity is bound up with other people we will quickly become people pleasers. However if the root of our being is found in God the Father we will seek to please him rather than being overwhelmed with the fear of people. In the local church there will always be pressure groups and centres of power who are attempting to hold back the life of God’s kingdom. Jesus knew his Father from whom he had come. To keep us from fear we should know him who has adopted us into his family with amazing grace.

Know the focus of the vision

The danger in the local church is to focus on something that is far too small. Things that are important to the people, pastoral care, comforting words and worship. The local church desires chaplains to walk each step with them. But the calling is to be leaders in mission. The anglican priests charge is for the “cure of souls for the parish”. The vision has to focus on those who are not yet following Jesus. To see and reach into all that the church is becoming with the people who have not yet come. Jesus knew where he was going and that it would not be popular. He had his heart set on the unpopular because his focus was on the bigger vision. The Kingdom of God is huge and expanding our vision should be nothing less.

Better with age?

Meeting up with someone I knew twenty years ago and he still looks the same. I am not sure I understand how that’s possible and I really don’t think it is fair.

Maybe we all mellow with age but some how it was far easier for me to be with him this week than it was twenty years ago. There had been quite a journey on his part. Pain and soul searching along the way. He had always been warm and genuine, as much as I ever new him back in the day, but now even more so he is someone who was easy to connect with.

Our conversation led me to a realisation that over the last twenty years I too have left many things behind. The old insecurities and distances that I used to place between myself and others have largely gone. Perhaps even though the last two decades have left me with little hair and a body that is less active, not that I really want to admit it, I am finally comfortable in this old skin.

Today I am more at peace with who I am and who I am becoming. Thanks old friend, I think things do get better with age.

Honoured

The best of relationships can quickly descend in to a mud-slinging match with insults and dishonour flying back and fourth. But for some people it is not that the relationship has taken a turn for the worst it’s that this type of constant dishonouring of one another is normal.

It’s the husband who does not respect or value his wife and putting her down publicly, treating her as a thing rather than a person without even being aware of the destructiveness of what he is doing.

It’s the wife who is embarrassed by her husband, forever apologizing to all they meet for his attitudes and jokes. A constant undermining of who he is and doing so front of others.

A put down, being embarrassed, cutting them short or even just the way you look at your other half; it all shows what is really going on inside. Is there a culture of honour, which leads to love and trust or is there a culture of dishonour which leads to the breakup of even previously good relationships.

So what does it mean to truly honour a husband or wife?

1. Look with love. A gaze across the room says it all, it can be full of dishonour or love and respect. The latter helps the other person feel safe and be the best they can be.

2. Verbally and publicly affirm. Let your words in private and public be ones that build up the other person. If you have not got anything good to say then now is the time to find something good to say while you still have a marriage.

3. Desire the best for your other half. If you desire the best for your other half then this will motivate you to support and encourage them. Perhaps most importantly you will want then to succeed in everything rather than being the person who holds them back.

4. Decide not to be embarrassed, even when they mess up. People mess up all the time, if you die inside on their behalf when it happens how does this help them? We can support in such a way that is honest about failure yet does not do embarrassed on their behalf.

5. Choose to love the person in front of you. Sometimes couples can start to love the dream of the other person. Someone they hope the other would become over time. Ultimately this is destructive and is not love at all. But choosing to love the person in front of you helps them be the best that they can be.

6. Give feedback privately. We know that public discipline with a child is unhelpful. But somehow in a marriage feedback can become public, a quick put down in front of others. There will always be times when we need to give feedback, it is best done one to one, face to face and with much grace.

7. Live the same in private as in public. The danger of all this advice is that a public persona is developed as a couple that shows the world that all is well. But the public life and the private life should have the same qualities. If it begins at home then it will overflow in public.

How would you rather live? Dishonoured and breaking or honoured and loved? You can choose!