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Monday, November 24, 2014

Radical Leadership

A call to Radical leadership- to be a servant of all

I have seen people who are in leadership abusing the power they have been entrusted with for self aggrandizement. Power, position and money are the three things that seem to drive many of the Christian leaders today and then there is the occasional sex scandal that pulls down a well known leader. Leaders are willing to do anything to stay in power and stake their claim for position. I was in a conference recently and I saw how a well known Christian leader was manipulating the organizers to make sure that he gets the maximum mileage and exposure in that conference and to top it all he had the audacity to publicly proclaim and even went to the extent of displaying his vast influence to the audience present. It was a pretty obnoxious sight. 
I have also seen good Christian leaders who in their early days rose through the ranks through sheer hard work and commitment and once at the pinnacle of power totally forget the route they came in and tend to behave like a pampered bully out to get all the perks and privileges. You wonder, “unbelievable is that the same guy, what on earth got into him?” 

Today Christians seem to like everything “Mega”, it is mega church with superstar pastors and their cult following, they relish the status and calls it anointing and anyone who casts a word of aspersion is a blasphemer who has committed an unpardonable sin worthy of damnation. Well nothing wrong with Mega churches and the amazingly gifted pastors who lead it, till that becomes a total personality driven venture. Where is the church leading to? The so called main line churches are struggling to stay afloat and keep the flock together but still frozen frigid unwilling to budge from their traditional mindset and steadily losing sheep to the fast growing churchatainment ones. (Entertainment seems to be the rule of the game today, if the church fails to entertain it is doomed)

Well the irony is that all of them claim to follow the same master who owned nothing except the tunic He wore, a suffering servant, humble to the point of death, common to the common man, identified with the poor, sick and downtrodden and He called His servants to “follow” Him. He spoke to the 'masses' but He didn't bask in its glory, He was followed by multitudes but was not a superstar celebrity who needed a bunch of bouncers to keep the crowd at bay, He performed miracles and healed many but never publicized it for personal glory in fact many times He shied away from the public gaze.  He developed servant leaders and empowered them to take over and succeed from where He left off unlike today’s leaders who build up personal spiritual empires and their only succession plan is their progeny who will inherit these personal kingdoms. 

How far away have we come from the masters teaching and His life? We have conveniently detached Jesus’ teaching from His life. Today we have no qualms in preaching about His teaching to others and call for obedience but hold on to an entirely different model of life for ourselves and shamelessly explain it away or even justify it from some unrelated passages from the scripture.  I recently heard a Christian leader who flaunts wealth proclaim that “I am the son of a King so I will live like a prince” entirely forgetting the fact that the King was providing for this so called “Prince” from His subjects who were giving from their hard earned money to sustain this leaders extravagant lifestyle, well the sad fact was that the subjects were blissfully unaware and had no clue that they were being spiritually leeched.  

Can a Christian be a leader and yet be a servant of all? Can he lead and serve as Christ led, well that might be a tall ask but that is exactly what apostle Paul meant when he said “imitate me as I imitate Christ”.  Can a Christian truly insulate himself from the trappings of power and position and truly serve the Church as many have done and as many unknown servants of the Lord are doing now in the different corners of the world?  Today for a Christian leader the biggest fear is to be ‘unknown’, to serve in obscurity.  I have heard people say if you are not known or popular then you “lack anointing”. For some leaders  I have seen after being in a position or power for long it is hard to even imagine without it, because that has become their identity, the title defines who they are. So they cling on to it, they play dirty politics and put to risk their church and their organizations. 
What the church needs today, what the body of Christ is desperately longing for is radical leaders who are Christ centered and others focused than self focused and self absorbed. Leaders who are willing to serve, willing to give up their rights, who are open and brutally honest with themselves and with others so that the people whom they serve don’t  have to look through a well crafted facade but will clearly see humble cross-broken leaders. This does not happen overnight, this happens through painstaking process of time spent in the crucible of prayer, soaked in the word of God resulting in painful life-change and deeply touched by the Holy Spirit to see our ‘egos’ crumble and our ‘self’ depreciating and Christ increasing in prominence in our lives.  As A.W. Tozer has rightly surmised, It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” 

I close with what our master said to His disciples in Mark 9:35,  Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tips on avoiding pitfalls in Leadership

Ten warning signs to watch out for:

  1. Being busy jumping from one activity to another. You have been busy through out the day with lot of activities, meetings and events and at the end of the day feeling drained and asking yourself "what have I accomplished through out the day"
  2. Lack of inner spiritual life feeling drained and empty. You might be having your regular quite time and Bible study but that feels like routine drudgery, no joy in doing those things and most of the times you feel like skipping it. 
  3. Less and less time spent with the family. You know that family is important and needs to be cherished but you would rather watch TV or read newspaper than talking to your wife or playing with your kids, you find that boring and most times get irritated with kids pranks or jokes. At home you are on a short fuse all the time.  
  4. Not addressing character issues but  more focused on results. You know that you are struggling with some deep character issues that needs to be dealt with urgently but you brush it aside thinking that people will never see it and will always appreciate results and productivity so focus on that. 
  5. Having a sense of entitlement or "I need those perks and privileges mentality". thinking that you have reached where you are because of your ability and talents and you are entitled for this position and all the privileges that comes along with it. 
  6. Sudden outbursts of anger and outrageous behavior. You sometimes wonder where did that come from, it is not you, but you just burst out in anger and lashed at people leaving you wondering why?
  7. Not keen on listening to others but more intent on speaking. you cut people short and speak- in and even while you are not speaking you are thinking of what you should say, paying no attention to what others are saying. 
  8. Becomes defensive and angry with feedback especially from subordinates. when some one walks up to you and gives a negative feedback about you, you tend to flare up and be defensive instead of introspecting and acknowledging.  
  9. Inordinate desire for power and to be in control. "I need to make all those decisions" mentality. Humility is a great virtue and acknowledging that there are others better than me is wisdom. 
  10. Actions not matching the words in fact doing the opposite of what you preach. When our life is not congruent with what we speak people see that easily and we loose credibility to lead them.
Beware of these red flags in your life, if you see any of these warning signals in your leadership take a pit-stop  and do the following:
  • Take time to Evaluate your life and leadership - ask for feed back, be open and honest.
  • Identify the problem and look for patterns. 
  • Take ownership of the pattern and identify the consequences of not dealing with it.
  • Take corrective steps to deal with the issue
  • Share it with a close friend and ask him to hold you accountable.
  • Pray and ask God for His wisdom to deal with it. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Grace in a graceless world

Oh! What has the world come to, men killing fellow beings in the name of religion, men ruthless, wicked and evil, mercilessly killing innocent fellow beings because they believe that it will give them salvation and heaven, is that what God wants? God the creator of all, God the sustain-er, God the compassionate and loving one, the merciful one; does He delight in the blood of humans, does He need the life of His own beings as sacrifice? Does He check our love and commitment to Him by demanding the blood of another human being who is also His creation? Does the all powerful God need our defense and protection? If one claims to be standing for “Peace” then why killing, rape, beheading, destruction and mayhem.  Tell me how does that bring “Peace”? History has proven undoubtedly over and over that violence begets only violence.
God is loving, He is compassionate and merciful and He does not require an eye for an eye, He does not ask us to hate those who do not follow our path, He does not need our help in establishing His kingdom if we say that He is all powerful.
 What God requires from us is Love, Forgiveness and Mercy. He wants us to forgive those who wrong us, show kindness to others and help those who are suffering. It takes more power and inner strength to show the other cheek when someone hits us on one cheek.  It takes “Grace” and what the world needs more than anything now is Grace – No one deserves it but we still give it because we freely received it from God.