The Christian Life is to be Shared

I love the stories found in the book of Nehemiah. He was a brilliant example of leadership, devotion, prayer and faith. In the midst of difficult times he was able to motivate people in the direction that led to peace, strength and security. After inspecting the situation and seeing the city of Jerusalem in ruins, Nehemiah addressed the people:

But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” (Nehemiah 2:17)

Did you notice the words we and us in this verse? In order to motivate the people of Jerusalem to rebuild the wall, Nehemiah had to personally identify with their problem, their need, and their future. It was no longer their problem;  Nehemiah saw the broken wall as our problem. Imagine the kind of response Nehemiah would have received if he had said, “You folks have gotten yourselves into a bad mess. You know what you need to do? You need to rebuild that wall. If you need me, I’ll be in my office. After all, I wasn’t part of the problem. You people will have to get busy and do the work. Let me know how it turns out.”

Identifying with the problem encourages motivation.

When Lee Iacocca became chairman and CEO of Chrysler at the height of the auto giant’s problems in 1979, he knew he would have to ask employees to take a pay cut to keep the company out of bankruptcy. Although he persuaded Congress to guarantee the company loans, he was still deeply distrusted by Chrysler’s union members. He knew that he had to find a way to persuade these workers that he had Chrysler’s best interests at heart.

Iacocca called a meeting of key management and union executives. He announced that for the next year his salary would be $1. The plan worked. By sacrificing his own salary, Iacocca proved that he placed the welfare of the company over personal gain. He identified with the workers. He was saying, “We are in this together, and together we can make it through.” He knew that people will accept a lot of pain when everybody is going through the trial together. If the followers know that the leader is in with them, together they can move a mountain or, in Nehemiah’s case, rebuild a wall.

So Nehemiah did it right. Did you know the meaning of his name? Nehemiah means, “Yah (or God) comforts or encourages.” I see that the best leaders are not the ones who tell others what they need to do for the leader, but are able to inspire others to get done what is best for the people.

Not everyone was happy. Trouble arose from without and from within. Sanballat and his friends tried to stop the work, but without success (Nehemiah 4:1, 2, 7, 8, 16, 17, 20). Trouble from within was economic. Building the walls caused a labor shortage; farms were mortgaged, and high rates of interest were charged (Nehemiah 5:2, 3, 4, 5). Nehemiah said, “The thing you are doing is not good” (Nehemiah 5:9). He corrected the problem and even gave financial aid to those in need (Nehemiah 5:10, 11, 12, 1518, 19). Again Sanballat and other non-Jews made several attempts to lure Nehemiah away from the job and shut it down, but they failed (Nehemiah 6:2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 14). Nehemiah proved to be a person of strong will and unusual boldness. “So the wall was finished… in fifty and two days” (Nehemiah 6:15).

Application: In what ways can you identify with the people you lead? How can you say to them, “We are in this together?” Have you come to terms that not everyone will be happy and excited about your leadership? But notice that Nehemiah remained connected to God in the midst of trouble (Nehemiah 1:5-7, 8-11, 2:4, 4:4-5, 9, 15, 6:9, 12). He was a man of prayer and faith. The Christian life is to be shared, all of us are in this together. Leaders and followers are in this together. That is what the Bible calls koinonia, which is fellowship, or sharing a common life.

I like the model of leadership that Ken Blanchard has promoted all over the country, the Lead Like Jesus model, he says, “Great leaders lead like Jesus.” The essence of this style of leadership is servanthood; we are to be servant-leaders. I will be leading a small group on this in the spring of 2011.

Leadership is an influence process – any time you influence the thinking, behavior or development of another person, you are demonstrating leadership behavior. So if you are a parent, CEO, pastor, Sunday School leader, electrician, accountant, then you are a leader and following the greatest leadership role model only makes sense. We should desire to be a Jesus-like leader, where God is glorified, people are served, and organizations are more effective in impacting the world for the Kingdom of God.

Commercial: Over the next eight weeks, Skip and I will facilitate a John Maxwell video series called, “Developing the Leader Within You.” It is designed for all of us to become the leader that God intends for his children. We all have influence over others at some point throughout the day, let’s become the best leaders we can be. Click Here to get more information.

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The Biblical Basis of Supervision

Following up on the States of Supervision, my friend Glenn Prescott developed this study as an example of Jesus modeling the different states of supervision.

Jesus was intent on equipping men and women to make a significant impact throughout the world they were called to touch.

  1. Structure provided the foundation out of which all ministry would grow.
  2. Cooperation provided the understanding that ministry was conducted within the boundaries of the community of faith.
  3. Fellowship provided the understanding that ministry was nourished in the depth of a personal relationship with the Master.
  4. Partnership provided the understanding that ministry should be taken to the next level and that there would be no limitations on what could be accomplished.

Jesus provided the biblical basis of supervision as He poured His life into the lives of His disciples. As supervisors, we should pour our lives into those we are privileged to serve.

(Focal passage: Luke 9:1-6, 10, Other passages: Mark 6:6-13, 30-32, Matthew 10)

1. Structure – equipped, authorized, sent out – Luke 9:1-5 (also see Matthew 10)

  1. Calling – Jesus called – they accepted (Luke 9:1)
  2. Gifting – Jesus gave – they received (Luke 9:1)
  3. Commissioning – Jesus sent – they went (Luke 9:2)
  4. Instructing – Jesus told – they listened (Luke 9:3)

2. Cooperation – teamwork, united ministry, sent out by 2’s – Matthew 11:1, Mark 6:6-13

  1. Working on a team
  2. Working with direction
  3. Working with a partner
  4. Working under authority

3. Fellowship – report, spend time together, rest – Luke 9:6, 10, Mark 6:30

  1. Disciples worked – Jesus blessed (Luke 9:6)
  2. Disciples returned – Jesus received (Luke 9:10)
  3. Disciples reported – Jesus cared (Luke 9:10 and Mark 6:30)
  4. Disciples and Jesus withdrew – They rested and refueled (Luke 9:10 and Mark 6:31-32)

4. Partnership – evaluate, results, go on their own, duplicate – Luke 9:1, 10

  1. What did I do?
  2. How did I do?
  3. What did I learn from this experience?
  4. What do I do to take this to the next level?
  5. Where do I go from here?
  6. What do I do to encourage others to follow (not just you)?

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The States of Supervision

The states of supervision describe the development and quality of working relationships between the supervisor and the supervisee.

The States of Supervision

People in working relationships pass through four states in this order: structure, cooperation, fellowship and partnership. They cannot decide arbitrarily to start out in the second, third, or fourth state. They must begin in the first state. A person cannot set dates to be at certain states, but can recognize a move from one state into another. The states are not absolute but are mixed so that after leaving state one, a person may revert to it (consciously or unconsciously) from time to time. People who are conscious of the states can move through them more quickly than they might do otherwise.

The states are bound by task/personhood. For example, in state three, the fellowship state, supervision focuses on personhood. In this state, personhood, not tasks, is the primary concern.

Many supervisory relationships stop prematurely in one of the first three states. People may find a particular state productive and refuse to change patterns, or they may find one especially comfortable. Each state matches the experience, history or natural inclination of the supervisor. It may take diligence for the supervisor and supervisee to move through the states appropriately. A problem may develop when people have an idealized concept of states. They may see supervision as what they experienced in their families or in an earlier vocation. They may idealize the supervisory relationship as being non egalitarian or autocratic. The supervisory relationship is never egalitarian, because the supervisor is always held accountable for the supervisee and must, in turn, hold the person accountable. However, since there are various levels of non egalitarianism, it does not have to result in an autocratic style.

The Structure State:
This is a task/task state, which has high structure. It is characterized by the supervisor outlining responsibilities, resources, and methods for doing the work. It is a “tell” state in which the supervisor tells the person about the tasks. Getting locked into this state is tempting when it is productive. However, if the person is to mature in the work and demonstrate initiative, supervision must move out of the structure state. This state is good for a beginning, or short term (a week or so), responsibility or for a person who is not ready to function independently. If the person is capable of growth and responsibility and the task is ongoing, the work relationship should grow beyond the structure state.

The Cooperation State:
This is a task/personhood state, where the supervisor moves from telling in the structure state to asking in the cooperation state. It is a “sell” state where the supervisor must determine if the supervisee is buying into the system and if he/she understands his/her role. In this state, the supervisor begins to take the personhood of the supervisee into consideration. By this time, the person has learned about the structure and the responsibilities and has demonstrated commitment to the work. The cooperation state allows him/her to take more direct responsibility.

The Fellowship State:
This state is bound by personhood/personhood. Leaving the cooperation state for the fellowship state may be difficult because the fellowship state is very person oriented with a tendency toward intimacy, and intimacy may be especially difficult when it is part of supervisory relationships. This is the “jell” state where the relationship between the supervisor and supervisee really starts to come together. The fellowship state may be the idealized state that many ministers envision about any relationship. The fellowship state is a productive time of planning and evaluating tasks. Only when the choice has to be made between person and task will there be an impediment to the task.

The Partnership State:
The partnership state goes back to personhood/tasks. This is not regression, nor is it the same as the previous task/personhood state. Because the person has been highlighted in the fellowship state, there is increased respect for and trust of the person when entering the partnership state. This is the “swell” state where this trust translates into increased responsibility for the supervisee. The partnership state is not the cooperation state revisited. In the partnership state, the supervisor makes the person a partner in the project, not simply someone who cooperates. The new partnership state makes the person a partner who has a voice in decisions and has greater ownership of plans and actions. Sometimes supervisors in the fellowship state fear moving into the partnership state because they must give away some control.

Using the States to Supervise:
When a new person arrives, begin the structure state with the highest structure you will ever need. This is an opportunity to help the person define roles and responsibilities. It is unrealistic to expect the person to begin in any other state. When a friend becomes your assigned supervisee, you can still have a close personal relationship, but you should define your supervisory relationship carefully. A problem develops with the states of supervision when the supervisor has several supervisees. Because of different levels of maturity, training and previous relationships, they may move through the states at varying paces. New supervisees will take more time to move than supervisees with tenure.

A person in an early state of supervision who does not understand the dynamics of the states may think the supervisor is playing favorites or may feel inadequate. When supervisees interact with each other, they can take into account the states of supervision and help new people move through the states. A situation or a crisis may necessitate moving back into an earlier state, even to the structure state. When the crisis is over the supervisory relationship can return to its previous state.

Intimacy with God

Christians talk about the presence of God, and I suppose it sounds rather odd to those who are not followers of Jesus. When we talk about Jesus being alive today, and that He walks with me and He talks with me, it’s the realization that we do not go through this life alone. It is an understanding of Christianity is all about, the resurrection and the Holy Spirit taking up residence in the life of a believer. God really does walk with us through the dark valleys of life. For many believers, getting closer to God is a heartfelt desire and worthwhile goal, but how can we draw nearer to God?

Quotes:

During those times you sit in the presence of God and your heart sighs for him, what is it you are sighing for? Understand that your sighing originated in his heart. — Graham Cooke

It is when we notice the dirt, that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of his presence. — C. S. Lewis

Whenever we move into a new spiritual dimension of our calling and ministry, we must take the time to upgrade our relationship with God. — Graham Cooke

Top 10 Ways to Draw Closer to God:

  1. Each morning when you wake up, start thanking God for the new day.
  2. Sing or say words that tell God how big and beautiful He is.
  3. Take one whole day to just be with God; to journal, pray and listen.
  4. Read books that draw you closer to God and enlarge your view of Him.
  5. Practice sitting quietly with your mind clear and free of other thoughts, to listen.
  6. Memorize a new verse each week from God’s own writings.
  7. Pray the Bible; let its truths examine you and lead you to the Truth.
  8. Carry on a conversation with God throughout the day.
  9. Let Jesus carry your heavy thoughts, complex issues and unsolvable problems.
  10. Learn God’s love language called “pursuit” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Church and Community

People today need a place to belong before they come to believe. The church is the body of Christ gathered for worship, fellowship, discipleship and missions. We grow in Christ together, not separated from one another. Many believers would like to recapture what the early church experienced, but how? It takes being real, and vulnerable, taking off the mask and connecting to another person at a meaningful level. This sounds very risky; are you willing to take the risk?

Quotes:

A striking feature of worship in the Bible is that people gathered in what we would call “holy expectancy.” They believed that they would actually hear the voice of God. It was not surprising to them that the building in which they met shook with the power of God. — Richard Foster

Rather than growing bigger churches, we should be concerned with growing bigger Christians. — Rich Mullins

In the essentials-unity; in the non-essentials-freedom; in all things-love. — John Wesley

Top 10 Ways to Build Community:

  1. Use self-disclosure to get real.
  2. Listen more than you talk.
  3. Ask good questions to uncover meaning.
  4. Have fun! Don’t make everything overtly spiritual.
  5. Use your spiritual gifts to encourage others.
  6. Balance activity inward, outward and upward.
  7. Serve those outside your community as a community.
  8. Share the significant issues of your past.
  9. Probe one another’s dreams for the future.
  10. Love one another practically and consistently.