Monday, May 15, 2006

The Radical Leap

My wife is a CPA. She works for a major, multi-national accounting firm. No, she doesn’t do taxes! She does audits. She is at the “manager” level (hopefully, a “director” before long!). The “company” has a group from her office working with a “coach” (my term, not theirs). She is a part of that group. The “company” wants to develop leaders.

An amazing concept—developing leaders. Jesus was in the business of developing leaders. He spent three years with a small group—training and empowering them. The Holy Spirit picked up the job after Jesus ascended into heaven. Their training wasn’t complete until they went to heaven to be with the Lord.

Questions… How does the PCUSA develop leaders? How do Presbyteries develop leaders? How do churches develop leaders? Are pastors leaders?

My wife has to read a book called The Radical Leap, by Steve Farber. The sub-title of the book is A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership. I picked up the book the other day while sitting in her office and started reading it. It caught my attention. Many of the concepts were applicable to the church! This week I am going to look at some of the ideas in Farber’s book and see how they can translate to my life, your life, my church, your church, the PCUSA and all of life. Get ready to take a “radical leap.”

We’ve been conditioned to believe that fear is bad. And, yeah, fear can save your life or keep you from doing something stupid, but avoiding it can also keep you from doing something great, from learning something new, and from growing as a human being. Fear is a natural part of growth, and since growth, change, and evolution are all on the Extreme Leader’s agenda, fear comes with the territory… a leader lives under a microscope. I’m not saying it’s fair or just, but people watch everything a leader does. Everything. They watch the body language and facial expressions; they listen to the tone of voice; they observe the decisions the leader makes; they listen to the leader’s questions and how they’re asked. Therefore, the most powerful tool a leader has is himself or herself.” (The Radical Leap, p. 21, 22)

Pastors, church leaders, denominational leaders and Presbytery leaders don’t like fear. We avoid it. We run from it. We ignore it. We must grasp that fear COMES WITH THE TERRITORY.

Fear is all around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – PCUSA from here on out. We are losing members. Giving to national and regional church bodies is dwindling. Entrenched leadership is not trusted by “the people in the pews.” Change is happening whether it is wanted or not. Fear. Fear! Fear!!

How do we as leaders face our fears? What do people see when they see us facing the future? Our reactions are being viewed by the folks in our churches. They see our body language. They see our facial expressions. They listen to the tone in our voice. Does what they see inspire? Are they willing to follow where Christ is leading us to go? Are we tools that Christ is using to shape his church or are we useless, dull tools that need sharpening or to be discarded?

The church I serve is faced with many challenges—opportunities. Our weekend attendance is around 100-110. Thirty-five + of our church family are 75 years of age or older. Many were founding members of the church. Our church property is 2.5 miles outside of Pierce County’s urban growth boundary. Thousands are moving into the area—2.5 miles north of our church. They ALMOST NEVER drive south. There is very little reason from them to drive south. There is no local newspaper. No local radio station. Advertising is almost impossible. We don’t even have a town. We are south of the population explosion. We are there, but the newcomers don’t even know it.

How will I be an extreme leader for Christ and his church as it faces a challenging future?

How will you be an extreme leader for Christ and his church as the church faces a challenging future?


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