Iron sharpens iron. The familiar and oft quoted proverb goes; as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Instrumental to my growth as a Christian has been key relationships with friends and mentors. As a young Christian just starting to take my first steps into faith I had a number of people come along side me and input into me. Four people will always be dear to me in this respect. Andy Chev my mentor and friend (and best-man at my wedding) was the first person to mentor me in an intentional way. We'd meet regularly for catch ups and coffee (and Pro on the PlayStation) and I'd get a chance to air my doubts/frustrations/sin/desires/concerns and he'd listen, challenge, correct, answer and pray with me. If he hadn't done that, I don't know where I'd be with God now. T
hree other people were friends of mine who went to Uni with me. Dan, Geoff & Daf. We'd meet to pray, share difficulties and concerns and spur one another to trust Christ even more and dare to believe for more. One night in particular always stands out in my mind. Daf and I were chatting about the gift of languages in 1 Corinthians. I'd recently been filled with the Spirit and was enjoying being able to pray in a new prayer language I'd received. We prayed for him to be filled with Spirit, he was, he prayed in a new prayer language. We then walked to Geoff's house and prayed with him. He was filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues. Finally we visited Dan. We prayed with him an he too was filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues. God birthed something in each of us that night and started a fire that is still burning to this day. It was also on that night and during that first year at Uni that I learnt the value and truth of that proverb.
I'm in a group of 4 in my church in Seaford. We meet to confess sin, challenge one another, encourage one another and pray for one another. Pursue God with friends.
Linked with this are two other things that I consider valuable in leadership. The first is an allusion to the story of Jacob wrestling with God in the OT. After wrestling all night God touches Jacob's hip and puts it out of joint. For the rest of his life Jacob walks with cane, he leads with a limp. Lead with a limp. Be aware of your weaknesses, don't hide them or deny them and don't try to lead like the world would flawless like Hercules. This piece of advice seems to make intrinsic sense to me. Sense since I am leading not as part of the world's system but as part of God's kingdom. In the kingdom of God the servant is the greatest and God's power is made perfect in our weaknesses. Knowing my 'limp' or weakness is a cause for celebration. It is what ensures that I don't leave the kingdom of God. That last sentence may seem strange but I feel its truth. I have a choice as a leader everyday. Do I lead as the world would have me lead trusting in my own abilities and resourcefulness believing that I can 'be the best', or do I lean on him, trust him, walk humbly before him and lead with a limp. Honest, dependant and sincere leadership. Leadership that isn't appointed by man but given by God.
The second leadership lesson from the 'iron sharpens iron' insight has to do with the threat of individualitus in the life of a leader. The potent virtue of individualism that underpins so much of our culture's world-view infects us all. It isn't so much our culture's world-view as it is the world created by sin and evolution. A world where survival of the fittest rules and history is told as the story of great men an women, individuals who rose above their station. It should not be so for a leader in God's kingdom. 'You are the light of the world and the salt of the earth.' Jesus told his disciples meaning not you Peter or you John but you my disciples, you the people of God. You are together the light of the world, you are together the salt of the earth. Together we are able to do far more than any individual can apart or alone. Leaders in the kingdom of God know this well and are aware that their role is to rose the troops and sound the alarm to mobilise God's people on mission.
Iron sharpens iron, lead with a limp and declare war on individualitus.
The rest are shorter :)
You are what you eat. Trust your conscience and feed what the Holy Spirit hungers for. Don't watch what your conscience is uneasy with and don't be surprised when God seems distant when you do. Do fill yourself with the things that God delights in, that excites your spiritual senses. Hunger for God, consume his word, waste time in prayer. Boot the right software into your system each day.
Jesus isn't a colleague I work with/for but my saviour, friend and life source. Obvious I know but invaluable all the same. The longer I draw a salary from the church the more this becomes something I need to watch. Don't get your life's energy from working for Jesus or even working with him (as magnificent as co-labouring with Christ is). No, get your satisfaction, soul delight and life's joy from the wonderful multi-coloured, multi-layered gospel. Find new ways of ensuring that it catches the sun's light and displays more of its glory. Never allow familiarity to breed contempt here.
Doubt isn't an enemy to faith, it's a bridge to more faith. So I don't mind saying that I doubt often. There, I've said it - will you still listen to me? I find it hard to know how anyone cannot. There is so much about the world that I don't understand, so much about faith that baffles me and God that confuses me. What should I do then? Conclude it's all nonsense since I can't fully understand it or exhaust all my questions? No, I won't. Jesus is alive, he did defeat death, Satan has been conquered, this world is not all there is - hope is real and to be trusted. I will stare down the barrel of any question or doubt I may have since I know the above to be true. I have found that wrestling, agonising and sweating over questions and doubts I have only ever brings me (eventually) into more faith and greater joy. Besides, if I've been conned I want to know and though it would come at great cost to my life and cause a great deal of confusion to my family (I'm not blind to this) I would like to think that I would pursue truth wherever it lies at whatever its cost or implications might be.
Be a Christian hedonist: So we're all pleasure seekers the only question is if we seek our happiness in shallow hollow places or in the source of all joy itself. Muddy puddles of sin and disenchantment or the living water himself? My ability to lead well is directly proportional and intermingled with my happiness in God. Besides George Muller was right, this is my first and greatest duty each day.
Heroes aren't born, they're built. Ah, my love of films and bumper sticker theology. I thank the tagline on the Iron Man poster for this one. I used to think that unless I 'popped' out as a ready made wise and respectable leader then I wasn't meant to be one. I see now the foolishness of that idea. We're all born with gifts and abilities and the natural God-given born into being-ness of those gifts is on a spectrum. Some people have a much more natural and intuitive leadership gift than others but all of us need to grow and exercise or gifts and lean into God to gain the wisdom and experience we need to to use those gifts as he would have us to. Growth and effectiveness comes when we a: surrender our gift to God recognising that it came from him anyway and b: muck in, pray and be ready for some hard work to grow that gift to become fully formed and mature. Learn the lesson of Tony Stark; heroes aren't born, they're built.
Learn from others, listen to others, make your own mistakes.
Things I'm starting to appreciate now:Learn the value of percolated coffee, and ideas for that matter.
Lead out of what God's put in you. What are you wired like? What do you have a passion for?