(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit praying for God to give me new insight to help me in leading with Operation Christmas Child)
Whatever You Do:
1. Should not be prohibited by the law of the land, unless the Bible commands otherwise.
2. Should not be prohibited in the Bible.
3. Should emanate from the local church and be transformational to the local community.
4. Should be replicable and multipliable. Please don’t build Taj Mahals.
5. Should be culturally relevant and appropriate to your context.
6. Before you make the final decision, always ask and answer honestly—if Jesus was here, would He be doing what I am going to do?
After we were married my wife wanted us to visit the Taj Mahal on our honeymoon and I asked an eight-year-old slum dwelling boy to come with us on our honeymoon. As we traveled and I learned about his life it derailed my own plans for my life.
I was challenged by the parable Jesus told of the master who went away and gave his servants talents to manage. The first two invested and built up those talents and the third hid the talent he was given. The first two were commended by the master and takes the talent from the one who hid it and gives it to the first two. The first two proved themselves worthy to be trusted with more.
All of us have been trusted with something. How are we proving ourselves to be trusted with more? Jesus has entrusted the church with everything necessary to transform the world, but I was becoming like that third servant and I thank God for that boy who came in and transformed my life.
What are you doing with your talents? To Jesus faithfulness is multiplying what you have been given. Just maintaining your things is not God’s plan or mission. If you are faithful in small things and will multiply them He will give you more.
The third servant who buried his talent is never heard from again. I hope you won’t be one of those. Just maintaining and keeping safe is not an option, especially for the followers of Christ. He always gave the command to multiply and bear fruit. We have no excuse or reason not to multiply. God gives us the starting point, but what we do with it is up to us.
3 “E”s of Leadership—
ENLARGE your vision – the first two servants had a growing vision. What is your vision today? Is it about the mission of multiplication? Is the Master pleased with your vision? We need to reactivate the gifts and talents that have been entrusted to us and take risks and we will see fruit emerging around the world. Being rich doesn’t make you a good leader or being poor does not make you insignificant. When people hear your vision they should see the vision of your God and be inspired to do bigger things in their own lives. Sometimes well-meaning people will try to pop your vision (vision-poppers.) We had a vision to plant 100,000 churches and people said it was impossible. But others have not seen or heard what God has put into you. Don’t worry what other people say anyway. In India we try to keep our skin white and cover it up—then I went to a beach and thought everyone was dead and robbed as they were lying in the sun and his friend said, “They’re all just trying to look like you.”
Don’t let culture or popularity determine your vision—let it be determined by what God has put inside of you. Stay focused but allow your horizon to get bigger and bigger. Last year our prime minister was encouraging us to build toilets because so many have no facilities so we decided to take that on. Now we have a toilet vision—it’s an enlargement of the vision to transform communities. There are opportunities all around you to enlarge your vision. I pray you will have the opportunities to see the vision around you. You need to become passionate and have a living vision. Your vision statement on the wall will not make people sacrifice their lives; they need to see your living vision.
EMPOWER your people—as leaders empowerment can backfire and people in whom you’ve invested may leave. We can lose confidence and start to lead with hurt and stop empowering people. Did Jesus know Thomas would doubt him and Peter would deny him? He did, but He still gave them a chance. I pray today you will start to empower your people. Don’t be fooled by the package they come in—they may be unlikely leaders. (picture on screen of a crazy, homeless man they found under a bridge who is now leading and transforming three communities.) Stefan was found by the side of the road 18 years ago and he now leads the ministry all over Asia. Pascal is a blind man who is starting to plant his second church.
Your leadership reach will be determined by your empowerment abilities. A good test about how you’re empowering is to take a long vacation. I intentionally live on another continent so the leaders under me will do the work of ministry.
As leaders we often get stuck in the project and have no capacity to determine a new horizon.
--you should focus on building character before empowering them – Great leaders focus on building character
--empowerment has to be through relationship – without knowing a person you can’t truly empower them. Empowering is about leading not from the front but alongside. All of our future leaders have to live in a small groups with established leaders for a year.
--make sure you have the right agreed outcomes in place and build in processes to measure them (KPI=Kingdom performance indicators)
Eighteen years ago when I started I had the goal of 100,000 communities being transformed. When we recently added up the goals of all our leaders it totaled 127,000.
EMBRACE risk—To me risk and faith is the same thing. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” How many of you are pleasing God by taking risks? It’s easy to move from pioneering to preserving unless you embrace risk.
To embrace risk:
--see it as your friend to love and not your enemy to be feared—the Bible says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear,” so we should be the most audacious people in the world. Give the fear back to the devil and embrace faith and go after the mission God has given you. Don’t let the fear of losing what you have keep you from losing what God wants to give you. When we stop taking risk we underachieve our potential. In Jesus’ story, not taking risk was considered lazy and unfaithful.
--see comfort and safety as your enemies—Comfort and safety and risk cannot co-exist. Who is missing out because you are refusing to take the next step of faith? Don’t see comfort and safety as good. One of the ways we play it safe is trying to work everything out before we do anything. I’m not saying you shouldn’t plan but don’t let the earthly practicalities make you forget the heavenly possibilities.
--begin to increase your pain threshold—You cannot take risk if your pain threshold is small. Some of the greatest ideas that could have changed the world are in the grave because someone played it safe. Don’t take your gifts to heaven. Heaven doesn’t need them; they were put in you for a purpose. Today is a decision day. One of my greatest regrets—I loved my grandfather and wrote him a letter telling him this but forgot to mail it. Then my grandfather died and he never got to read it. When you get to eternity don’t have any regret about steps you wish you had taken.
I want to ask you to do 3 things before you go to sleep tonight
--make a list of all the dreams you have not followed, then make a column of the date you will take action on them, then make a note of the person who will hold you accountable. God has sent me to encourage you to pull the trigger on the things about which you have been procrastinating.
God has given you talents and people are depending on you to use them. In eternity you will be so glad you did.