April 10, 2017

Resourceful Leadership

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A Note from Luminex: This morning’s blog post is the fifth in a 10-week series on leadership. Enjoy!

When it comes to resources, there are two contrasting errors spiritual leaders must guard against.  Staying out of either ditch requires vigilance.  Dr. James Dobson compares this balancing act to holding a wet bar of soap: Grip it too tight and it squirts out the top; hold it too loose and it slips out the bottom. Being a resourceful leader requires a similar, delicate balance.

Resources abound.  There is no limit to blogs, podcasts, books, conferences, surveys, webinars, coaches and mentors. There are lists of best practices for increasing worship attendance, improving stewardship, developing staff and expanding volunteers.  These lists come in 3’s, 5’s, 7’s and 10’s.  Take your pick.  This plethora of possibilities leads to imbalance number one: Approaching ministry like a research project.  More pointedly, taking control and credit for the success of the church.

Resourceful leadership must start with a posture of humility, acknowledging that we are short-sighted.  Paul, quoting Isaiah, writes “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” (1 Cor. 1:19)

I know the frustration of following all the proven pathways and ending up in a cul de sac.  I know the frustration of “It worked there; why didn’t it work here?” And of “It worked then.  Why didn’t it work now?” And of “It was true in 85% of the case studies. Why did I have to be the exception?”

In the end, God’s answer is always the same: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”  (Is. 55:8)

The second imbalance is just the opposite: Believing we are deficient and hopeless. While Proverbs 3:5,6 says “Lean not on your own understanding,” it continues, “in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” While pride can lead to a fall, so too can lack of faith.  How foolish and disobedient we are to assume that the cupboard is bare when the God of the universe and the King of the church is our partner! How wrong we are to squelch the Holy Spirit who caused the lame to walk, the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.

That same Holy Spirit directed Philip’s path to the Ethiopian eunuch, and Paul’s path to the Macedonians. That same Holy Spirit turned despisers into believers, and beggars into evangelists.  If God can raise to life a boy who snoozed to his death, why would we limit what He can do in our ministry?  We are not without resources.

Where might the soap be slithering out of your hand?  Are you overestimating your resources, or underestimating God’s? Resourceful leaders understand the need to balance healthy humility with steadfast faith.

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