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Preparing for Our Mission, Part 3

Promoted to Royalty

Your world is at war. You were born into a world of chaos and destruction, pain, and division that so often typifies war. And as with all wars, you are expected to choose which side in this war you will support. Revelation 12:7-9 tells us how the war began…

7And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8But he (the dragon) was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth and his angels with him” (New International Version).

For most of us, it is in our nature to avoid conflict if at all possible. We despise conflict, particularly the intense conflict war brings. However, the reality is that you and I were indeed born into a world at war. This war has been raging since before the creation of the world. It is a war in which you and I, if we are not careful, may feel like mere pawns, weak and disposable, in an epic game of chess. However, while chess pawns have limited fighting power, their real power is in their ability to get to the opponent’s far side of the board (the back rank) and be promoted into a noble and more powerful player in the game such as a Queen or Knight. Satan would deceive us to believe that we are mere pawns, weak and disposable, in this epic game; that we cannot really make a difference in this world. Yet while this was once true of all of us, we are no longer weak and defenseless. Through our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ…that God took on flesh and became in every way like one of us: tempted, tormented, rejected, yet sinless and victorious over death, hell, and the grave; and through our public confession that we are sinful and in need of his forgiveness, that he is Lord over all, especially Lord and Master of our lives…we also, through faith in Christ, are now victorious having been promoted through Christ from mere pawns to royalty possessing the very same authority and power that belongs to Christ within his Kingdom.

Romans 8:17 states: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Yet while our status as royal co-heirs with Christ is a reality, we likely do not yet understand how to live as royalty, or rightly wield the weapons that those who are Spiritual Royalty are given by the Holy Spirit to use in this epic warfare. When a biblical pawn is promoted to royalty, through faith in Christ, the new “Royal” must be trained and equipped to effectively apply their royal status, authority, and expanded powers so that they may eventually make a real difference in this fallen world. The Bible refers to this training process as “disciple-making”.

The word “disciple” comes from the same root we use for “discipline”. This is not the kind of negative discipline we commonly understand as punishment. This is the kind of discipline an athlete uses to become proficient at their “discipline”.  Look at how the Bible refers to our training process:

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV) “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

As new royalty in Christ, our “strict training” will involve preparation in three distinct developmental areas as outlined in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6:

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NIV) “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 1) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we 2) take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will 3) be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

I have underlined specific phrases because it is important that we do not miss their meaning. According to this passage our “strict training” involves three areas of discipline development:

  1. As the Holy Spirit leads us, we remove everything from our lives that would keep us from loving our Lord (i.e., we nurture our relationship with God).
  2. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we “take captive every thought” by submitting it to God (i.e., we transform our inner thought life)
  3. In the righteousness we have in Christ, we demonstrate our love for God through our obedience to his commands (i.e., we surrender our will/control).

This tri-part “strict training” (Relationship, Thought Life, & Will/Control) is required of every pawn who through faith in Christ has been promoted to royalty. This training is a life-long process of learning to surrender self to the transformational work of the Holy Spirit. Please note the respective roles in this training process: We surrender ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit does the work to transform us, teaching us to surrender self in the areas of relationship, thought life, and will.

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Preparing for Mission, Part 2

Getting Childish

 

Isaiah 11:6 (New International Version)

“The wolf will live with the lamb,

the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling together;

and a little child will lead them.”

 

See Yourself as Childish:

Isaiah 11:6 envisions a future time when Christ’s Kingdom is made complete. Scholars don’t know for sure when or where this prophesied event will take place, only that at that time God’s shalom (Hebrew: “peace”) will reign throughout his Kingdom…and through God’s shalom, a little child will be able to lead both vicious and gentle creatures alike. And what is more, you and I are among the “little children” whom God will enable to lead both the vicious and the gentle of this world to share in Christ’s Kingdom. The “Child” image is very important in Scripture, so much so that Jesus asserts that it is impossible to enter into Christ’s Kingdom unless we become like little children. In Mathew 18 Jesus says:

Matthew 18:3 (New International Version)

“And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become

like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

What is it about little children that Jesus values so much? Certainly, children are far more innocent than adults, and Jesus may be challenging all people to become more innocent. But I think Jesus’ challenge goes much deeper. I believe Jesus is challenging adults to see themselves in this fallen world in the same manner as children innately perceive themselves as demonstrated through their imagination.

Children seem to share a remarkable and common understanding that God created them to participate in an epic story as a prince or princess within God’s Kingdom.  Reflect back on when you were a child. If you were a girl, did you ever pretend to be a beautiful princess or some other idealized character? Or, if you were a boy, did you pretend to be some kind of victorious prince, knight or super-hero? When I was a boy in the 1960’s, I played-out the prince-role pretending to be a cowboy or playing cops and robbers. Later generations of children, influenced by the Star Wars movies, could often be seen pretending to be Jedi Knights. Children have an innate perception that their lives exist within an epic story of good versus evil. As adults, many of us identify with the characters portrayed in epic stories conveyed in the books we read and the movies we view. My favorite movie is “Lord of the Rings”. I cannot imagine a better portrayal of a good-verses-evil epic story…except one…the Biblical epic. As I watched Lord of the Rings for the first time, I found myself passionately identifying with the Hobbit Frodo on his mission to carry the Ring of Power back to the fiery pit from where it had been made, so that it and its evil might finally be destroyed. I could not help but ask myself, “What did the ring represent in my life…my mission…that I would be willing to live, suffer, and die for it?” For me, epic stories like Lord of the Rings enables me to reenter the world of my childhood and once again see myself as I once did, as my Heavenly Father sees me now…that I am a royal prince on an epic mission quest.

But, sadly, as we grow from childhood to maturity, we become “reasonable” and “responsible” and set aside our childish self-image as a prince or princess who serves victoriously within an epic event that overcomes evil. Adults become accountants, businessmen, factory workers, husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers. And as responsible adults we justify to ourselves: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (1 Corinthians 13:11)As we put childish ways behind us, we all too often satisfy ourselves with making a living rather than living to make a difference. God does want us to make a living and to provide for ourselves and our families. But he also desires for us to make a difference in this world, so much so that Jesus brashly re-defined our priorities…

Luke 14:26 (New International Version)

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” 

This passage is not telling us to “hate” our families, rather this is an Aramaic colloquialism intended to challenge our priorities to the core of our being. Simply put, Jesus is telling us that no one and nothing can come before our Kingdom service and loyalty to Jesus Christ. To hold any family member or even our own lives as a value above the things of Christ is a form of idolatry. God simply will not allow us to have any other gods before him (Exodus 20:3). So we are called to become like little children who are reborn into his Kingdom, adopted as co-heirs with Christ, raised to maturity in Christ so that we may serve our King as royal warriors, fighting a universal spiritual battle to establish Christ’s rule and authority within an ever-expanding Kingdom of God’s grace and mercy.

Let’s take a few minutes and review what the Bible has to say about our royal status and position in this world. Please read the following Bible passages, and summarize/personalize each passage in your own words, noting what the passage says about your status and function as a prince or princess called to promote Christ’s Kingdom in this fallen world.

 

Conclusion: Summarize and Personalize the Following Passages…

1 Peter 2:9 (New International Version)

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Example:

I am a chosen person, to serve as part of Christ’s royal priesthood within His holy nation, and I belong to God so that I may declare the praises of Him who called me out of the darkness and into His wonderful light“.

Summarize & Personalize:

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ephesians 1:5 (New International Version)

5He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

Summarize & Personalize:

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Romans 8:35-37 (New International Version)

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake, we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Summarize & Personalize:

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

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Ready for Fall Kick-Off?

5 Steps to Getting the Right Person in the Right Role

Have you ever had a nagging feeling that you forgot something? Many ministry leaders have this nagging feeling as they are preparing for their ministry programming for Fall Kick-Off. They may question: “Do I have the right people on my teams”? Or, “Do I have the right people in their most effective positions”?

If you use AssessME.org correctly, there should be no doubt that you have the right people, in the right positions, and in the right teams. But when I say “correctly”, what do I mean? Please let me illustrate how I build my teams using AssessME.org.

Where to Begin

I almost always begin my search for candidates using the Leadership Style Assessment. The first question I ask is, “Do I need a Builder, a Manager, or a Nurturer for this position”? A related consideration is whether I am building a new team or adding a team member to an already established team. For now, let’s focus on my process for adding a member to an established team.

The AssessME.org program advocates team-based leadership rather than point-person based leadership. There are several reasons for this position:

  1. If a team member leaves, the ministry program can continue under the care of the remaining team leaders.
  2. Ministry stability and sustainability are crucial considerations when seeking to expand ministry impact from year to year.
  3. Team-based leadership empowers team members to serve out of their God-given strengths, rather than struggle to compensate for the leader’s inadequacies.

The most important reason is because the kind of team-based leadership AssessME.org advocates is patterned after the Triune Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, consider the graphic below…

Trinitarian Leadership

A leadership team model based upon the Trinity.

I believe that the functional roles of the three persons of the Trinity should be reproduced within every leadership team. Does my team have a Team Leader…like Jesus? Does my team have an Administrator…like God the Father? And does my team have a Paraclete…someone like the Holy Spirit to care for the team members and the people the team ministers too? My ideal is to find this “Three Strand Chord” of leaders for every ministry program. So, if I need to add a person to an established team, then I consider what role is lacking. Using the Candidate Search Engine within AssessME.org, I simply sort my data base by the desired leadership category. To dig deeper, please read my book, Made for a Mission, which goes into far greater detail explaining the team building process.

Step 2: Sort by Personality

Once I have filtered my database for the desired leadership style, I consider the available flavors of personality represented within my defined candidate pool. Think of a personality type as one’s style of service. So, for example, you may have searched previously for a Team Leader. There are numerous flavors of Team Leaders. We need to find the Team Leader who has the best temperament for the specific needs of the ministry under consideration.

One church of about 400 people had the following personality-type results for their Team Leaders. Consider the eight “flavors” of how these different Team Leaders would function: (Note: The number following the title represents the number of people).

  1. Guide (1) –
  • Gifted counselor and mentor
    •   Highly people-focused
    •   Prefers one-on-one or small group relationships
    •   Typically works behind the scenes
    •   Has significant influence on the individuals he/she serves
    •   A common pastoral personality
  1. Disseminator (5) –
  • Values a mission
    •   Values serving with people to accomplish a mission
    •   Values a mission that benefits people
    •   Passionate, with strong relational and verbal skills
    •   Gifted at the startup phases of a project
    •   Attracts people to any new or hot activity
  1. Designer (3) –
  • Creates a blueprint of system or organizational design
    •   Works independently
    •   Turns chaos into structures to be implemented by others
    •   Has a small relational pool since relationships are viewed as “hard work”
    •   Can observe and address poor logic in a system design
    •   May require support in dealing with difficult interpersonal relationships
  1. Protagonist (1) –
  • Highly social
    •   All of life is “a stage”
    •   Needs to be in the center of any important social activity
    •   Has a flair for style and the arts
    •   Values cultural relevancy
    •   May “drop the ball” and not finish what was started
  1. Super Leader (1) –
  • A leader of leaders
    •   A primary influencer within the organization
    •   A strong strategic planner
    •   A change agent
    •   Significant ability to mobilize people to a vision or cause
  1. Fraternal Leader (1) –
  • Likes to invest in a group or team
    •   Values ideas as well as people
    •   Comfortable in the role of instructor or mentor
    •   Excellent problem solvers
    •   Ultimate goal is to always benefit people
    •   May become too emotionally involved in the lives of others
  1. Minister (2) –
  • A shepherding person that values protecting people
    •   Avoids risks if at all possible
    •   Leads small groups and individuals well
    •   Functions well only in small organizational structures
    •   Modest and humble individuals
    •   Values heritage and tradition
  1. Creator (1) –
  • The Thomas Edison of ministry systems
    •   Highly resistive to established ways of doing anything
    •   Is attracted to innovative ministries
    •   Possess strong verbal and multitasking abilities
    •   Gravitates to roles in technology, mechanics, or organizational development
    •   Make great systems analysts and consultants

 

Each of these Team Leaders brings a different set of skills and temperament into the ministry context. It is important that we position the right kind of Team Leader into our team example.

Step 3: Consider Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual Gifts are Holy Spirit enhanced abilities that are related to one’s God-given personality. There is a direct relationship between gifts and personality. So why do I wait to consider spiritual gifts until step 3? Because ALL spiritual gift assessments have fundamental assessment flaws. They are based upon a combination of interest and experience questions. Just because you might have an interest in a ministry area, does not mean you are truly gifted accordingly. And, just because you may have done something before, does not mean you did it well, or should have ever been serving in that capacity in the first place. Most spiritual gift assessments are only about 60% accurate. Therefore, we provide our personality and leadership style assessments to serve as a check-and-balance against our spiritual gift assessment results. You should expect a consistent pool of gift results among the people you have so far narrowed in your database search. Spiritual Gift results serve as a confirmation of ability and style for the role you are seeking to fill within your ministry team.

Step 4: Consider Necessary Skills

One of my last considerations, can from time-to-time, become the top search criteria. Do I need a doctor? Do I need an electrician? Do I need a Lawyer? What skills are desirable for our Team Leader to make the final cut?

Step 5: Consider Spiritual Maturity

In the spirit of “The last shall be first”, I consider the candidate’s NextSteps Assessment reports for both spiritual maturity and felt-need issues. My first consideration is what level of maturity in Christ is required for this position? Some churches require that all leadership candidates must have reached the “Deploy” phase of spiritual maturity. While others consider the Develop phase of spiritual growth sufficient for leadership positions. It is wise for a church or ministry department to define a policy so that a consistent requirement standard is maintained.

The second consideration is the candidate’s felt-need report. Felt-needs may be positive, such as a great desire to serve the Lord, or negative, such as being wounded by a recent divorce. I tend to set aside all candidates that have a current negative felt-need status. In most cases, I believe it is time for them to heal and grow through their present challenges. However, in some cases, it may be of great benefit to a person experiencing a negative felt-need, to serve other people so that their focus is placed on the things of Christ, rather than upon themselves. These cases require spiritual and emotional discernment. However, in general, I prefer to recruit leaders who demonstrate a consistent positive felt-need status.

Conclusion

While at first read, using these five steps for adding a member to a team may seem complicated. However, with a little practice, these steps will soon become a part of your everyday experience. And in doing so, you will find that your leadership teams will be more effective, and your team members will experience greater satisfaction as they serve their Lord and His people. My prayer is that your ministry will experience a successful Fall Kick-Off, and I hope AssessME.org will be a contributing partner to your success.