6 Questions for Christian Leaders

communityRecently I have been thinking about what it means to be a good leader. There are many good books about leadership, lots about vision and authority. We need those books to motivate us. But I was thinking the other day about the weak things of leadership that God works through, the humble things, the things that people don’t always see. I have been thinking about my time as a leader in doing student work and I have gathered some of my thoughts together onto this blog post. I am going to ask 6 questions. Mostly asking 6 questions of myself, but I hope it will help you too.

1. Are you on your knees in prayer?

Leaders who don’t think they need to pray are probably not leading well. When I don’t pray I know I am not leading well and I am consumed with the worries of the world.

Prayer is the Christians vital breath. If you are a leader of CU or small group then the best place you can be is daily on your knees in prayer. Pray for your committee, for the CU, for your small group, for your church and for yourself. When you feel discouraged, sad, unmotivated then come and prayer to our Father who knows we are weary and can fill us with His Spirit. Come to the throne room of God and seek the Father through His Son, come and enjoy Him, come and cast your anxieties on him, come and rejoice when things are going well, come and weep into his bosom when things are hard. As a leader why would you not settle your gaze on Christ through prayer? There is no better place to be. You don’t always have to pray on your own, although its good for your soul if you do spend some time doing that. But prayer in community is encouraging. So come and bid for others to join you.

2. Do you weep for the lost and the broken?

I was astounded when looking at Acts 20:17-38 about how much Paul cries. Paul is filled with tears, tears through sharing the Gospel, tears through correcting others, tears over other Christians and churches. Paul weeps. As leaders we can be full of tears. As leaders we can weep over the lost and the broken. A few times I have seen an elder in my church stand up and through tears he speaks about the Gospel or speaks about the lost. Its powerful. It shows great sincerity and shows what you care for from the heart. Are you a leader that weeps for the lost? Imagine if you stood up in front of your friends and had tears in your eyes because your coursemates don’t know Jesus. Or because your friend is suffering. I want to be a leader who isn’t afraid to cry.

3. Do you admit you are weak?

Most the time as leaders we think we have to be strong all the time. We feel like we have to live up to expectations that are just not realistic and if we carry on with this superman approach we will just burn out. Leaders need to admit their weak, they need to admit that they get weary and they need rest. When as leaders we admit that we are weak then we will rely on God more, we will allow him to minister to our hearts, we will come to him in humbleness and weakness, we will be far more patient with those around us who are weak also. Remember Moses was weak and the Lord used him. Don’t be afraid to show your weakness or that you are dependant. The world tells us that we should be individual, but we know that as Christians we are utterly dependant on Jesus and on each other (the church).

4. Do you tell the Gospel to yourself daily?

Whats the first thing we mreading-bibleust do with the Gospel? Believe it. Daily we need to minister the Gospel to ourselves. We have to get into scripture and read about Jesus. We are a forgetful people and it’s the reminder of what Jesus has done for us and who we are in Christ that will warm and remind our hearts again. Do you tell yourself the good news of Jesus Christ everyday? Do you joyfully seek read the scriptures and drink deeply from the well of God? When the devil tells you lies, do you tell yourself the truth? You need to. As a leader you need to tell the Gospel to yourself.

5. Do you have a friend telling you the Gospel daily?

Church community is so important. We need to tell each other the Gospel daily. As a leader you will spend most your time pouring out all you have and its easy to get proud or discouraged. So you need to have other Christians telling you about Jesus. Do you have friends pointing you to the cross? You need them. You need honest friends who won’t be afraid to rebuke you and then minister the balm of the Gospel to your wounds. Do you have a friend telling you the Gospel daily? I have a group of friends that do this and I need them to do that for my sanity and growth in Jesus. Find friends who wont flatter you, but will be honest and speak of Christ to you.

6. Do you care about numbers or people?

It’s tempting to mark your success by numbers. I get sucked into this often. If your success is based on the number of people coming to events or the number of people who you have shared the Gospel with then you will be discouraged quickly. Let your ministry not be about numbers. Let it be about people. Who cares how many people came to an event? Lets work with who came and minister to them. Lets love people not numbers. Your ministry will be more enjoyable.

Those are just some of my thoughts. I know there are probably lots more and there are loads I have missed out on. But these are the things I have been thinking about. I would love to hear what you think and any more questions you would add to this!

If God, Then What?

I recently read this book by Andrew Wilson – “If God, Then What?” which is an apologetic book but with a twist – it isn’t a typical apologetic book with a question and then a chapter on how to answer that question. In fact some of the chapter titles are quite quirky – “Galactic Roulette”, “White rain” etc. Wilson writes in such a way that you feel like you are going on a journey with him, following his train of thought and arguments. He never assumes that you believe in God, he doesn’t use Christian jargon and he doesn’t jump straight to the typical christian answers to things. Actually what he writes is quite compelling, personal and logical – he doesn’t try to win an argument or trash what people believe. This is a book I would feel very comfortable in giving to my non christian friends. In fact as I was reading reviews of this on amazon I came across a really great review from a guy called Geoff who isn’t a Christian, he found the book “disappointingly good”! he says:

“I think this is a book a parent could give to a teenager and entertain reasonable hopes of them reading it through, with a better than average chance of having a decent discussion as a result. He’s done well to keep the book to an appropriate length for such situations. He hasn’t sought to bring entirely new arguments forward, rather he’s collected several and presented them in an accessible, readable and engaging fashion. Most books in this genre seem to try to win conversations or close them down. Wilson seems to be trying to open them up…

If you’re a Christian and you’d like to share your faith with others, buy this book. It’s the best I’ve read in the genre and extends a hand of friendship rather than a wagging finger of disapproval. It didn’t convert me, but did leave me wanting to join the author for a coffee and a long chat.”

Read the rest of the review here.

This is certainly a book, as Geoff says, that Christians should read! It’s an easy read and actually I couldn’t put it down! It is certainly one of the best apologetic books I have read.

If you want to listen to the podcast of Geoff and Andrew having a chat about the book on Justin Brierley’s radio show Unbelievable.

Questions from London

Students at SOAS uni have some great questions about Christianity. As I sat on the panel for the grill a Christian event, I noticed a fighting spirit to save the world among students and they were asking great questions. It made me think about my answers when chatting with people from different cultures and backgrounds. How best do I communicate the Gospel? Do I communicate it in a very white western way? Or do I start thinking cross culturally? These are good things to think about when reaching the nations.

Here are some of the questions that were asked, how would you answer them if a Muslim or an African or an Asian was asking this?

1. How can I trust the Gospels?
2. What would you do if someone you knew died?
3. Can someone who is homosexual be a Christian?
4. Why did God become human?
5. Why did Jesus die?

Great questions arnt they? It’s good that people are asking them.

Please keep praying for London.

If there is no God

There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Did you see this campaign on the buses?

John Lennon says –

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

But what are the implications? Are there any consequences to these statements for society or our lives? Is society a better place without God? Can we even enjoy our lives without God?

Pete Lowman in his book – East of Eden, uncovers some of the implications that are truly disturbing when you take God out of the picture.

“Thus our `post-God’ culture is marked by the pressures – and wrecks – of the battle to create our own identity and self-worth.”

Well lets start with imagining there is a God what does that mean for us? Lowman says:

“We can look at ourselves in the mirror and know that, with all our follies and weaknesses, we are each, already, a unique masterpiece, from the greatest craftsman in the universe.  Just as every drawing by Picasso has tremendous value because Picasso made it, so we as God’s unique creations have unimaginable, intrinsic worth.  Further, each child of God now has a unique gifting from the Spirit, indispensable and irreplaceable (1 Cor 12:7,21-26).  Believers in God have excellent reasons to believe also in their own value. “

If there is a God then we have worth, identity, made in his image, created for love and all good things on the earth to enjoy and ultimately to enjoy God himself.

But if there is no God. Then where do we get our worth from? L’Oreal? Friendships? Fashion? Food? Sex? Our jobs?

Sure, for a while that might work out – we get promoted, we get married, we have best friends amazing hair and fashion…But what happens when we get old? Or our marriage changes and breaks down? Or our boyfriend/girlfriend dumps us or we get  fired. Where is our worth then but fleeting away with all of the things we put our hope in. Its gone. And suddenly we are feeling depressed and worthless.

Pete Lowman writes: “having lost sight of the Creator God who loves us, we become forced into a destructive struggle to create our own self-worth.  It’s not an ‘inevitable’ crisis; it’s directly and logically linked to our loss of God.”

This just doesn’t affect our identity, but a loss of God affects our purpose, ethics and love for each other.

Lowman writes again:

“What is worth doing?  What am I living for?  I have the privilege maybe of getting a qualification, getting a job, working for money for food to have energy to go back to work again, to earn money for more food to go on working… around the circle for 50 years; then what remains goes into a box, and the box into the ground.  If we believed in God, we could believe in a Father with a plan that makes our direction in life – our calling, or `vocation’ – significant.  But if there is no such purpose?”

Why are we even here?

Our whole society (especially in the west) is striving for some self-worth and identity. But it is lost without God and it is incomplete and unsatisfactory without him. Are we just a piece of meat?

All kinds of materialism lead one to treat every man including oneself as an object’, suggested the French existentialist thinker Sartre; ‘that is, as a set of predetermined reactions, in no way different from the patterns of qualities or phenomena which constitute a table or a chair or a stone’.

And perhaps you look at the idea of God and you say “no thank you… he isn’t what I want”… and you are right but you are only right if you are looking at the wrong god. In the next post I am going to look at what the wrong god looks like and why we don’t want him and why it doesn’t solve our problem with identity and self-worth.