Friday, February 8, 2013

securely insecure...

Oh boy, I have to get my ideas down while they are still fresh in my mind. I am 61 and a half you know! I remembered this incident from early on in our church’s life. We were beginning to grow at a nice pace and a guy visited one Sunday. As I introduced myself and he told me his name I recognized the name but was not sure  from where. The I remembered a good friend of mine had told me about him and had said he was a really good guy. Truth is at one time he had come to Toledo to plant a church near the UT campus...but his leaders had discouraged him from doing this. Not sure why, some leaders that have titles like control and I kind of felt like this guy had got the short end of a story like that.

Anyway I went back to him and told him I had heard of him and how I knew this guy and that guy and we hit it off well. When you are at certain stages of church planting you are looking for other leaders to come alongside to work with you. He began to come around a little...kind of sporadic but making noises like he really liked what we were doing and felt at home here. He was gone for a couple of weeks so I called him to see if he was OK...this is what we do you know. 

When we connected we got together for coffee and to chat. I kind of teased him by saying, “ I called to see if anything had happened or to see if maybe I offended you. You know us pastors. We are an insecure group.” He responded with, “I am not insecure.” Nervous chuckle on my part...I was insecure...he wasn’t. AWKWARD! Later I realized...he was not leading anything! Why should he be insecure? He was sitting on the back row with his big responsibility being taking up the offering...and I mean passing the buckets not from the platform. 

I mean he did seem quite confident...and I know he had been extremely hurt by the other leaders...and I think he was quite gifted. Leading nothing.  Not insecure...but not too secure I think also. I always wondered why, if he felt like God was sending him to plant, he would let someone else talk him out of it. Now I am thinking I could use his help here...we have room for more leaders...we might even be able to send him out to do the plant he felt like God had intended him to do. He disappeared...well went back to the safety of the large church where he could be knowing he was not leading anything. Sad...really sad. 

I have a feeling as I read scripture Moses was pretty secure out there watching sheep hanging out with his wife and kids. It was not until the burning bush and God calling him out that his insecurity shows up. Gideon was fine hiding in the cave smashing grain until the angel shows up and says, “Have I got a job for you!” I have to admit it is hard to lead with much insecurity going on in your life...but on the other hand if I am too secure in my abilities, I may miss what God is trying to do with me and in me. 

Funny how I remember that moment...really not that significant...and yet I remember. I do wish I had been a more secure leader...but the key is...I was leading. I had said yes...when others thought maybe I shouldn’t...when I thought I shouldn’t...waiting for the “real” leader to appear. Turns out he was already in the was me. Strange how that works isn’t it. 
I came across this guy a few more times at church events...I think he had a hard time remembering who I was. (imagine that!) Whenever we talked it was obvious he was still secure...and not leading. Sadness usually entered my heart as I thought about him...think about him now. I really do think he was a leader...probably would have done well. We are all secure in the boat...well kind of...but when you get out of the out! It is a different world outside the boat. Insecurity explodes...until we look at Jesus...and He leads us back to the boat. 

Please do not read this as criticism of this fellow or me bragging on myself...nothing could be further from the truth in either case. John Wimber would say, “You know you are a leader when someone is following you.” While I so rejoice in this journey God has taken my me on and still has me on...I pray for those who began the journey to leadership and stopped. Lots of good men and women have been hurt or convinced they are not leaders and so they stop. Safe and secure in the background...but not fulfilling what God has called them to. 

So this regular, reluctant, insecure guy will sign off now...knowing I am no longer reluctant or insecure...well not too reluctant or insecure...and still a regular guy. 


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Boy this leadership deal is strange...takes many twists and turns...lots of ups and downs. I think if I had to make one statement concerning leadership it would be that the leader has to be a life long learner. Always digging deeper, going further. Never resting on past successes or accomplishments...not ever taking compliments to deeply. Even though I know I will never be a corporate style leader I have read many books on many topics just to be stretched to go further than I thought I could go. You don’t have to compare yourself to the Jack Welch’s of the world or incorporate all of what it takes to go from “Good to Great” but we should know and grow. If nothing else it helps us identify our strengths and allows us to bring people around us with other gifts. Not to fear other gifts and allow others to grow in how God has created them. 

Yesterday, I think for the first time ever, I told a friend in leadership they needed to hang out with me and Barb more often. We had something to offer him and the others leading around him. It took me about ten minutes to get it out...sounded so arrogant on some should hang out with would be good for you. Thing is he just looked at me and asked, “Why do you think I called you today?” Brilliant Bill...just brilliant. As I listened to him talk about some of their issues as a team they had the corporate model down...but knew little of servant leadership. Funny how God brings you to a place where you begin to see that you have things to offer when you thought you had nothing. How He can heal you enough to let you step out of your comfort zone to offer to help someone who may be more gifted, more of a leader than you. 

I leave the meeting wondering, what just happened there? Was that me? Did I really say that? What was I thinking? I also leave thanking God for never giving up on me...for Barb never giving up...for Dave never giving church family never giving up. That is such a key in growth as a leader or in anything. Having people not give up on you...and knowing God will never give up on us. HUGE! I love reading stories about guys like Gideon, where and angel encounters Gideon hiding in a cave. He greets him with, “Hail mighty warrior.” Gideon had to be looking around the cave wondering who this being was talking to...surely it was not him. But it was...God calls it as He sees it, not as we do. He sees us so differently than we do...or at least before we do. Then He has others speak into us to help us get there. I cannot tell you how many times people have spoke into my life and said things about me that seemed so out of the picture. Words about leadership...about leading...that I wanted to say, “Hey you got the wrong guy here. That word must be for someone else in the room.” But when you hear it on so many occasions in so many settings you have to either believe God is speaking to you or wonder how so many people could be so wrong. 

A reluctant leader has to stand up and lead eventually or he will get trampled by those who want to follow. I do not think a leader always is way up ahead but more likely is just ahead of the group. If we get too far ahead or think we need to be separated from the group how will they ever follow? Won’t they get discouraged and stop...or look for a leader who cares enough to see how they are doing? I think this is why scripture and Jesus use the model of a shepherd so often. In a flock of sheep there will be all sizes and shapes if sheep..some who can want to go fast but many others who will need to travel slower. Young sheep, lambs, who need care and nurture...who just cannot travel that quickly. Sometimes they need to rest...sometimes they need to learn what it means to be a sheep out in the pasture. The dangers...the to get to water...who will find food for them. You do not drive sheep like lead sheep. John 10 Jesus is speaking and He says, “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” 

I think this is Jesus model of leadership...He goes ahead...and yet is close by...close enough the sheep can hear His voice. I suppose at times I may be too close to those following...if you can be...there is a model that many in the Vineyard and other churches use and have talked about. It talks of moving from a shepherd to a rancher...from leading the sheep to leading the ranch hands and driving the cattle I think. Honestly I have never been able to transition to rancher...maybe in the future...more to learn for sure. For now a shepherd is who I am...and now I am seeing that God has done enough in me that I do have stuff to offer others...not my stuff...God’s stuff. That maybe a shepherd could teach a rancher a couple of things...maybe. 

I will tell you it is nice to enter a room and not feel like I am a fraud...that I should not be there. That if someone asks the right questions I will be found out...that One who is greater than me or you has said I am welcome to sit at the table. It is He who called me to be a He was. I always wanted to be like Jesus...always...still do...and if this part of it. That is way cool by me. 


In the past few weeks God has spoke on many different occasions to Barb and me about our level of influence increasing...about the authority I walk in...and so much more. It is overwhelming on so many levels...humbling and fearful. I, we, are open to all of this but my heart is to always makes sure it is in humility that we walk. If there is influence...if there is is all from Him...and while I will walk where He says I need to continue to always be pointing back to Him. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights,” (Jas.1:17)
I can walk in some measure of Him...not me...I know me. Pray for me, us, to continue to walk humbly before God and His people...we will go where He sends.