Rick Warren lead us in a masterly Bible study on 1 John 2 at the exponential conference yesterday. Here are my notes. Hope you find them useful!
Love the world – don’t love the world
The Christian is to love the world because Jesus loved the world.
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The Christian is not to love the world because Jesus did not love the world.
1 John 2:16 – Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
The problem in the church is that we get these the wrong way round. We don’t love godless people (the world in John 3:16) but we do love godless things (the world’s values in 1 John 2:15-16).
We do the exact opposite of what Jesus calls us to do.
That includes leaders too.
The three great traps of leadership
1. The lust of the flesh – our passions.
2. The lust of the eyes – our possessions.
3. The pride of life – success & status
The antidote to these three are integrity, generousity and humility!
1. The lust of the flesh – our passions.
Anything we go to that makes us feel good. It could be sex, food, sleep, TV, internet porn. anything we go to that makes us feel good.
They are a temptation especially to tired, busy, stressed, leaders.
In our tiredness we say to ourselves ‘you deserve to feel good!’
The lust of the flesh is essentially hedonism. One of the three great value systems of the world.
2. The lust of the eyes – our possessions.
‘I see it I want it’. Materialism.
There is an entire industry designed to feed the eyes and to create desires for more.
Pastors are not immune from the love of things and the desire to
3. The pride of life – success & status
‘I want to be ….loved, worshipped’. Secularism is the pride of life.
All three show up in the life of leaders.
How do we fight them?
1. Integrity to fight the lust of the flesh
It means being ‘a unit of one’. Refusing to compartmentalise life.
Integrity is not about being perfect but it is about being honest.
It is also about remembering that when you sin you never sin by yourself. It may be private but it is never merely personal. It always affects other people in your life.
2. Generousity to fight the lust of the eyes
The only antidote to get, get, get is to give, give give.
You are most like Christ when you give.
Everytime I give my heart grows bigger and I break the grip of materialism.
3. Humility to fight the pride of life.
Humility is not denying strengths but being honest about weaknesses.
How do you know that yuo are humble?
a) You can learn from anybody
b) You refuse to defend yourself when attacked
c) You look to Jesus to provide
They like to ask this question ‘How do I want to live?’ It’s a great question. It’s an obvious question. It’s a necessary question. It’s necessary because so many leaders find themselves pulled in all sorts of directions and as a result probably not living life in any kind of balance and not living the life that they think they should live as leaders of God’s people.
Too many meetings, too many e-mails, too much management and not enough life-on-life change.
So how can we be more intentional in our discipleship decisions? How do we live the life that we want to live?
Our biggest problem is probably not laziness but lack of focus. For many of us what is stopping us is that we have never really decided what we need to stop doing as well as what we ought to start doing.
In the book Deliberate Simplicity Dave Browning observes that there is a need to make deliberate decisions to stop doing worthwhile things to focus on better things.
Here’s Jim Collins, author of Good to Great;
Most of us lead busy but undisciplined lives. We have ever-expanding ‘to do’ lists, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing – and doing more. And it rarely works. Those who built the good-to-great companies, however, made as much use of the ‘stop doing’ list as ‘to do’ lists. They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug all sorts of extraneous junk.
Leaders who succeed make deliberate decisions to stop doing things.
It’s as simple as this when it comes to living the life you want to live. Browning points us to the words of Al Ries and his book Focal Point;
There are only four things you can do to improve the quality of your life and work:
1) You can do more of certain things. You can do more of the things that are of greater value to you and bring you greater rewards and satisfaction.
2) You can do less of certain things. You can deliberately decide to reduce activities or behaviors that are not as helpful as other activities.
3) You can start to do things that you are not doing at all today. You can make new choices, learn new skills, begin new projects or activities, or change the entire focus of your work or personal life.
4) You can stop doing certain things altogether. You can stand back and evaluate your life with new eyes. You can then decide to discontinue activities and behaviours that are no longer consistent with what you want and where you want to go.
The answer to Hugh Halter’s question is to stop focusing only on 1) and 3) and to give equal time to 2) and 4).
Browning sums it up like this:
By doing less of certain things, and stopping doing other things altogether, energy and resources can be reinvested in the few things really worth doing. By not being so broad, we can go deeper.
If you’re leading a ministry team at church or advising or encouraging another Christian as they lead in some way (maybe even your spouse or housemate) Dave Ferguson suggest six great questions you can ask in his book Exponential in a chapter on coaching leaders. With a little bit of creative application they are really just great questions to ask of any Christian over a cup of coffee!
There is also a certain logic to the questions that Ferguson brings out. Both relationally and theologically it’s important to be asking the right questions and to ask them in the right order.
1. How are you?
Remember, at the heart of effective coaching is a relational investment. We begin every coaching conversation by checking in to see how the person we are coaching is really doing.
2. What are you celebrating?
Moving from ‘How are you?’ to ‘What are you celebrating?’ keeps the tone of the meeting relational and positive. It’s tempting to quickly focus on what’s not working or what is broken. The question keeps the conversation focused on where the leader is feeling successful.
3. What challenges are you experiencing?
You might be thinking, ‘Finally we get to something productive.’ Yes, the previous questions are very relational, but if it helps any, remember that when it comes to coaching, the relationship really is the task. This question gives your leader an opportunity to talk openly about the thing that may need development in his group or team. Continue reading »
Dave Ferguson wants me to share this with you from his leadership book Exponential:
If there is one section of this book that I want you to photocopy and send to somebody else, it is this section on the five steps. If you memorize anything from this book, memorize these five steps. If you’re tempted to steal anything from this book and claim it as your own, claim these five steps. I admit that I did.
Five steps of Leadership Development
1. I do. You watch. As an experienced leader leads a team, an apprentice takes time to observe him or her. Within a few days the two should meet to discuss what the apprentice has observed. This debriefing time should include three simple questions: (1)”What worked?” (2) “What didn’t work?” and (3) “How can we improve?” This time of debriefing needs to continue throughout the process.
2. I do. You help. In this phase of development, the leader gives the apprentice an opportunity to help lead in a particular area. For example, if someone is being developed to lead a student ministry small group, the leader might ask that person to lead the prayer time while the experienced leader leads the remainder of the time together. Again, this experience should be followed up with a one-on-one to talk.
3. You do. I help. We talk. Now the apprentice transitions from supporting or helping the leader to taking on most of the leadership responsibilities of the team or group. If a person is being apprenticed to lead a team of sound technicians, he or she will operate the sound system and provide leadership for the other sound technicians. The more experienced leader now begins releasing responsibilities to the new, developing leader. As in the previous steps, the leader and apprentice leader should meet regularly to debrief the ministry experience.
4. You do. I watch. We talk. The apprentice process is almost complete as the new leader grows increasingly more confident in his or her role. Consider how this step might look in a children’s ministry. A children’s group leader, at this point, would give his or her apprentice the opportunity to fulfil all the functions of leadership, with the more experienced leader now looking on and watching the new leader in action.
5. You do. Someone else watches. This is where the process of reproducing comes full circle. The former apprentice is now leading and begins developing a new apprentice. Ideally, the leader who has developed and released several apprentices will continue to work with those leaders in a coaching capacity.
Dreaming big for God
Expect great things from God attempt great things for God so said William Carey the founder of the modern missionary movement.
I guess like me you find the quote inspiring but what does such trust in God along with such godly ambition begin to look like in your life and in mine?
In a book I’m reading called Exponential, Dave and Jon Ferguson, lead Pastors of Commnuity Church, Naperville, Iiinois made some very helpful observations of the need to dream big and how big dreams begin to change things not least your own life:
I have found that when you dream big, it changes how you think, how you act, and it can even change those around you.
Not least because ‘allowing your heart and mind to pursue a vision that is bigger than you can handle will change you in some very significant ways.’
1. Big dreams change your questions
The bigger your dream, the more you challenge and stretch your mind with tough questions. The size of your dream will often determine the types of questions you ask. Small dreams that are within your grasp and easily managed require one set of questions. Big dreams lead you to ask an entirely different set of questions, questions you would probably never ask otherwise.
At City Church Birmingham we’ve asked the question ‘how can we plant a daughter church?’ now we’re asking a different kind of question ‘how can we see 20 churches planted by the year 2020?’ Only when we started to ask that question did we realise that the only way we could ever see that happen was through seeking working partnerships with other church-planting churches in the city of Birmingham, churches we hardly new and churches of whom we had previously felt no real need to connect with. All because our ambitions were too small.
2. Big dreams change your prayers
Big questions also force you to ask questions to which you do not know the answer. When you have questions and you don’t know how to answer them, who do you turn to? God! Big dreams force us to ask the types of questions that lead to greater dependence on God.
As we start to form new partnerships in the city we pray that God would protect our unity. As we look at church-planting with no resources to fund or
support planting so we pray that God would provide. As we ask questions of strategy such as ‘how do we reach a city of a million?’, ‘how do we practically work together?’ so we find perhaps more than ever we need wisdom from God and so we ask him knowing that he gives generously (James 1:3).
3. Big dreams change others
Big dreams are also contagious. They are infectious. They not only change you, but they can also slowly begin to change your friends and those around you!
We’re thrilled to find that in the first year of running the ‘2020 Planters Programme’ that six church-planters, all committed to planting in the city, are gathering to meet every couple of weeks, pray for one another, share ideas, vision and resources. As we listen to each other, share and pray so we are inspired and urged on in the task. It all seems so much more possible at the end of a Wednesday morning than it did at the start.
4. Big dreams change you
As our dreams get bigger, our doubts will inevitably grow.
That’s certainly been my experience too. The bigger the dream the more you are constantly reminded that it is beyond your ability to deliver it. Wherever there is faith doubt will be right there along side.
At present we are planning a second conference for 2020 birmingham this time the conference will be jointly hosted by Acts29 Western Europe (5-6th May). Mark Driscoll will be speaking and 2020 will have an opportunity to share something of the vision we believe God has given us for this city. As the conference approaches so we feel ever more unworthy because of our sin, unable because of the size of the task and unprepared to answer the questions raised by the task before us. But each times those feelings rise there is a fresh opportunity for faith to grow as we remember that we only attempt great things for God because we expect great things from God.
So what stops us dreaming big dreams?
I find that there are two common fears that keep us and our churches from taking risks for the sake of mission. The first is our fear of failure. We say to ourselves. ‘I’m afraid it just won’t work…and I can’t accept the possibility of failure.’ The second fear that keeps us from taking risks is closely related – it’s the fear of loss. We work for years to build a large church or successful career, and our ‘success’ can become the very thing that gets in the way of our taking more significant risks. We tell ourselves, ‘I’ve accomplished too much to lose it all.’ If it is a fear of failure or loss that is holding you back, let me remind you of the grace of God. Walking faithfully in obedience to God is what matters, not your success or failure in the eyes of the world.
When it comes to taking risks, the important question you need to ask is when was the last time you took a risk and trusted God? When was the last time your courageously followed Jesus and did something that was clearly beyond your own abilities? When was the last time you followed Jesus so closely that it was uncomfortable, maybe even a bit scary?
What might this mean for you?
Dave Harvey author of Resucing Ambition wants us to keep asking this question:
What is the Spirit-constrained ambition that God wants us to indulge for his glory right where we are?
And we could also ask:
- Is there a ministry opportunity I’ve simply been too scared to take?
- What is stopping me from going for it? Is it fear of failure? Fear of loss?
- Who can I talk and pray through this dream with?
- Who can help me shape and realise this dream?
- How deliberate I have been in praying for guidance or in asking God to enable this dream?
- Am I being held back by small ambitions that must give way to something out of my reach?
We carry the same gospel Paul carried, and it requires us to have a similar ambition – Dave Harvey
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