Posts tagged ‘leadership’

February 14, 2012

Shepherd Leadeship

by pastortimfowler

This weekend is our church’s big annual leadership meeting. We meet informally several times a year in smaller groups, but once a year I like to get everyone together for a pep talk and brainstorming session. Leadership is a not something that comes natural for most people. In our society we have cultivated a mentality of followers where leadership is an idea or an object is the driving force. You see it in the push to accept culturally relative issues like views on marriage and religion. In our political realm we are being lead by class warfare and guilt trips rather than desires that help all.
Churches have fallen into a mode of leadership voids that do not reflect what God intended for us. We have committees and groups that tell the pastors how they should act and popularity contests that elect our deacons and elders. We have lost the God given authority of leaders to a more comfortable group format. An old pastor friend of mine once said this. “In nature, where there is more than one head on a creature, it is a freak. Where there is no head, it is either a worm or dead.” Is it any wonder our churches are looked upon with such low regard by society?
The biblical leadership example given in the Bible for those who would lead God’s people is most always the shepherd. Sure there were kings and dictators, but that was not by God’s design. Even those kings that were most revered by God were those who were first shepherds, like David. Jesus is called the Good Shepherd. We are His sheep. Sheep do not form committees and have power struggles with their shepherd. They do trust the shepherd and submit to his leadership.
A shepherd is the one who is responsible for the well being of the flock. If he fails at his job, the whole flock can be lost. You can sum up the shepherd’s job like this. He is to provide a safe healthy place for the sheep to live and reproduce. The shepherd does not reproduce sheep. Sheep do that. But in many churches the people have somehow gotten the idea that their job is to find someone who will grow the church for them. Meanwhile they can eat and relax inside the comforts of the building and not have to worry.
A shepherd leader knows his sheep. He does not ask them if they want to eat from this pasture or the other. He leads them to the best food. He does not ask them if they want to drink from the stagnate pool or the trickling stream, he takes them to the good water. He does not let sick sheep infect the entire flock. He may have to carry one or even remove one from time to time to save the whole flock. And the shepherd does not have to ask his sheep if they want to reproduce, because healthy sheep like to do that and do it naturally.
The leader that God wants will lead the sheep to where they need to go. Protect them from any dangers. He stays in the field and is always alert for threats that want to sneak in and kill or steal. A shepherd often smells like a sheep and rarely smells like a king. And no king is ever loved by the sheep like the shepherd is loved by the sheep. Sheep trust the shepherd because he is who leads them with their best interest at heart.
I love teaching our leaders this philosophy. They seem to get it. Maybe that is why our church is seeing people bring their friends to church and to Jesus. Shepherding is not easy, but is very rewarding. One day the shepherd will meet the King and my prayer is that the humble shepherds will hear the King say, “Well done!”

October 27, 2011

Take Me To Your Leader

by pastortimfowler

Who do you know that you would follow anywhere? Maybe a quick answer would be your spouse, but remember that I said anywhere. Would it be a policeman? How about your child? Now I want to ask, who would follow you anywhere and Why.
I am getting ready to read Dave Ramsey’s new book about leadership. It came highly recommended at a conference that I recently attended and because I like his approach to money and admire what he has done with his company, I want to see what he teaches about leadership. This is a subject that try to read at least a book or two a year about and I don’t think I can ever learn enough about the subject.
I often use the question, what kind of person must Jesus have been to have thousands of people follow Him into the wilderness without any food? Remember that they did not have drive-throughs, then, and restaurants were hard to come by in the wilderness. These people must have been crazy to follow a man they barely knew out into a hostile environment unless he had some pretty amazing qualities. This is the same man who told 12 men to follow Him and they left their jobs and did it for 3 years even though He continually told them that He was going to a cross to die.
As Christians, we are supposed to lead people to Jesus, and sadly, that does not happen with most of us in any great numbers. Sure, it is not an easy task in this present age, but I believe that there is one thing that is consistent that makes it easier, Jesus. He has not changed and He gives us the guidelines that allow this to happen. Maybe we should focus on those rather than what we are currently trying to do.
Leading others is something that takes a willingness to be bold and take the first step. But it also takes an ever-present awareness of watching the steps that we take as others are watching us. If we lead others in the wrong paths, who needs a leader? We must be willing to keep heading in the right direction even if people aren’t immediately following us. Sometimes people want to see if we believe that we are heading in the right direction before they tag along.
Another key to leading others and this is important, at least to me, is that they see joy in you as you head to where you are wanting to lead others. One of the promises of Jesus said that He would give us His joy. He did not say that he would make us happy or let us find joy, but rather He would give us the joy that He already had. To often I see Christians walking around as if they had lost their puppy or something. Even in church where we gather to worship, I see long faces and people afraid to act as if they believe that God is real. And after church if you go to a restaurant you will hear the church folks talking about long-winded preachers, bad music, and that hideous dress that she was wearing. To top it off, many waitresses will tell you that Sundays are their worst days for tips. Oh yeah, baby, follow me to life eternal! Where is the joy?
Leadership is not limited to CEO’s and Government officials and pastors. If you are a Christian you should take the lead. An old friend of mine once said that you only have to be one step ahead to lead. The challenge is to act like we want others to follow. Most people like the spotlight of leadership when there is a title and a pay-check involved, but Jesus tells us that the treasures in this world will go away, but the treasure in heaven are never-ending.
If you had to lead someone to a place that was as miserable as the wilderness of Israel, and you had no food, you had better be a dynamic person. Jesus was. But He did not say lead people to the wilderness, He said to lead them to Heaven, via Him. If McD’s was giving away free Big Macs and fries to everyone that you brought to them, you would have no problem putting on the smile and enthusiastically having people follow you there, even if it were the one across town. Jesus offers the Bread of life and Living Water and a place to stay in His mansion for all eternity to everyone you bring to Him. And, you won’t have to lead them far. Just take them to the cross.

September 9, 2011

What I Learned Today

by pastortimfowler

Here is a very short blog that will summarize what I learned today at a leadership conference.
*You can drink from a fire hose.
*Christian leaders are not superstars, they are servants.
*If you aren’t grateful for what you have, God can always take it back.
*Your spouse needs to be your friend, not just your lover.
*Christians need to run towards the mess.
*Leaders need to be a bit crazy.
*Christ is enough.
I told you this would be short, but look out in the days to come as I want to elaborate on a few of these. My heart is running over with joy and excitement.
A very special thanks to the people at NewSpring Church in Anderson SC for their hospitality during this amazing conference.

September 2, 2011

Reading Her Mind

by pastortimfowler

My wife told me today that I must have been reading her mind when I brought coffee to her at her office.  Funny thing is I hate reading. I read to keep myself informed and to improve my life and keep my brain sharp. But when it comes to reading her mind, it is too often out of a need for self-preservation.
For years I have had superpowers that I use from time to time. No one knows exactly what they are, in fact, I have not yet found the end of them, but it does include mind reading when it comes to my wife. I could make a joke here about how that would not really be super powers but I won’t. Reading her mind is very complicated. She is a brilliant woman who has a mind for details and for business. She has held many high level positions in corporate America and has always been successful in what she does. She has great abilities to sense the emotional needs of others and immediately decide how to help. In our church it is evident that the day-to-day operations depend on her involvement, as she has tremendous administration skills. Her teaching abilities are exceptional and her leadership skills amaze me.
So my reading her mind is an act of super powers because as everyone knows, I am just a simple man. This does not mean I am not an intelligent man, because simplicity can be difficult to master. If you keep it too simple you look lazy and almost stupid, and if you don’t keep it simple enough it becomes complicated. Therefore with the help of my superpowers I make being simple, well, simple.
Years ago I began to realize that I had this ability to read her mind. It was a cool Autumn evening when she walked in on my attempt to do laundry. In the load that I was pulling out of the dryer, was a sweater of hers. My wife has always been a very fashionable dresser and wore the finest clothes that we could afford. The sweater was one that complimented her God-given beauty well and fit perfect, if you know what I mean. As I pulled it out of the dryer, which in my opinion drys best when it is on high heat, she notices that it was a bit smaller than it use to be. Before she could say a word, I knew that she was thinking, “Tim, you wonderful man. You cared enough to do my laundry too!” After she spoke I realized that I had the ability to understand her true meaning even if the words did not match what she was thinking.
Another time involved me watching the grandkids. She was out pursuing one of her many business ventures and had asked me to watch the kids for an hour. I knew she what was going to ask when she came home, even before she did, but that is not what I want to tell you. It began to rain and the kids were acting like little monsters and they would not listen. They kept wanting to get loose from the duct tape and I kept telling them to wait until Mimi was almost here.
I knew that she gave them a bath every night and that this night would be no different. It had started to rain and I figured that rain water was as clean as tap water so why not send them out to play in the rain. So I took off the duct tape and let them out in the yard. I don’t understand why kids will suddenly be attracted to mud puddles if they are outside, but they are.  I should have listened to that voice in my head that said Mimi is on her way home, but I didn’t. When she saw the kids, I immediately knew what she was thinking: “Tim is a wonderful husband and Papa to try to have them bathed for me.” What she said, again had to be interpreted, but I got the drift of it.
Today it was really very simple. She wanted coffee. So I went to her favorite coffee shop and took her a large coffee fixed exactly as she likes it. She said thanks and gave me a hug and said, “you must be reading my mind”. I made it look so simple and of course I fully understand what she really meant when she said thank you. So, I am looking forward to her coming home tonight because she was really saying was: ” Tim, I want him almost as much as I want this coffee.”
I don’t do her laundry anymore and I don’t watch the grandkids when it is raining, but I will never stop taking her coffee.

June 3, 2011

Follow the King

by pastortimfowler

Yesterday I finished reading 1 Samuel and it deals mostly with the reign of king Saul and the beginning years of the man who will be king, David. There is a lot to gain from these two men and from this book of the Bible. I am always amazed at how God allows us to learn from His word and how often the lessons can challenge us to rethink our view of life’s challenges.
Saul was anointed king because Israel wanted a king like everyone else had. They already had a king, God but they saw how other nations had a king that would cave into the pressures of the people and God doesn’t do that. But God gave them what they wanted to show them how foolish it is to follow man and not God.
Now Saul was not an evil man from the start. In fact God sent His spirit to come upon Saul and guide him. For a while, Saul followed that leadership and things went well, but somewhere along the way the power went to his head and he made a mistake that cost him God’s favor. After that, God allowed an evil spirit to rule Saul’s life and chose another to be the King of Israel, a young boy named David.
The priest Samuel, went to David and anointed him to be the next king. The anointing did not mean the immediate removal of the old king, but rather that David would be the next king after Saul. Several years past before David actually took the kingdom. He became a great warrior, a great friend, and, get this, a great servant of the one who he would follow, Saul.
David did not follow the evil desires of Saul, but he did not subvert the authority of the king that God had appointed. David was a faithful soldier under the king and followed the laws of the king to the fullest. I think we can all learn from this. Even though we may not like and or even agree morally with our leaders, we have an obligation to be good citizens. We do not have to follow anything immoral but we do need to follow the law.
David had several instances where Saul tried to kill him. Using wisdom and understanding from God, David was able to see that evil was responsible for the wrongful acts and that honor was still required for God’s appointed king. David in return had several chances to kill Saul. But at every chance he chose to use it as an opportunity to show the king loyalty rather than defy his authority. You see, God will never allow another man to subvert the authority of the one that He has put in place. Even if that man is wrong, and even if we have a chance to remove him. God puts leaders in their places and it is often because God is giving us just what we deserve.
At the end of 1 Samuel, many are celebrating the death of king Saul. Both Israel and her enemies were singing and shouting in celebration of his death. But David did not. In fact, he cried. In the first chapter of 2 Samuel, David receives the news that Saul and the army of Israel had been defeated. Immediately he tears his clothes and cried aloud and does not eat. The men who followed David did the same because David had taught them well.
David was sad for several reasons. First, when the king is defeated, the nation is defeated and David loved his country. Second, David respect the positional authority and Saul was his king, good bad or ugly. Third, Saul’s son Jonathon was killed too. Jonathon and David had a special friendship. We are told that they loved each other as they loved themselves.
But I wonder if David was not sad because he knew the he was about to have to fill the seat of the king. He had seen how leaders are often ridiculed and how many will come looking for your head on a platter at the first mistake. He knew that even though he was faithful, many were not. Leadership can be a lonely place and David was about to enter into a place that few will ever understand.
I pray that I will be faithful to my leaders, whether I agree with them or not. I pray that God will allow a servant’s heart to fill my heart. I pray that in my own role as a leader that God will allow me to only lead where He leads and that my desires are only His desires. I pray that those whom God has blessed me to lead will understand the solitude of leadership and understand that every leader must often make decisions that are difficult and not always pleasing to the majority.
I am not a king, nor do I want to be. God has appointed me the position that David started out in, a shepherd. But David also knew that shepherds must love their flock and lead them into a safe and healthy life so that they may reproduce more sheep. I am not sure if it is easier to be the king or to be the shepherd, but either way, God shows us how it is to be done.
May we all follow THE KING.