Sunday, May 20, 2012

The impending dearth of Leaders

There is an impending dearth of good leaders to undertake the task of building the kingdom of God. New leaders gradually lose their zeal and traverse into an unresponsive mode. It is Interesting to note that this twist happens soon after the person officially becomes a part of a leadership team. They fade off to oblivion after the given term is “suffered” or even earlier. Before the inclusion, they would all be teaming with sheer passion and commitment for the cause of the Kingdom.

What is causing this alarming trend? Is it the quality of the new leaders or the selection process? I must say with great pain and shudder neither; it is you and I who are to be blamed, the leaders of today. It is we who are destroying these innocent lives of great potential, partnering with the enemy, in the name of God.

When did we start deciding for others? When have we all become task masters depriving the young to pursue inspirations that God gives them? Where have we lost the cherished concept of enabling people? Do we care to check when we assign tasks to another; it is what God wants them to do? Or is my agenda always at the forefront? I’m I dwelling on my own capacity to decide the future of my ministry, colleagues and even the kingdom. Do I have a quality prayer life? Do I really know the heart of God? Is it love that is driving me or task? You and I have only two options, quit or change. In order to "change" we must humble ourselves before the Lord and accept our failure rather than to justify.

A person figures out his uniqueness, call, role and strength by submitting himself totally to Christ. He discovers himself in the experience of love and freedom that comes from this submission. According to St. Irenaeus, “Glory of God is man fully alive”.  A person grows to his full potential when he identifies his unique endowments, gifts, talents and partners with God in fulfilling the plan He has for him. Jesus said in the gospel of John “I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full. [John 10:10].

When you and I decide for others and dish out an agenda that’s personal to us without discernment, not only do we deny them the opportunity to identify their uniqueness but also lead them away from God's plan.

The young ones are surely motivated by the "talks" of their beloved leaders. But when they come to interact with us, our emptiness is exposed. Think about it. Isn't it our own lack of submission to Christ that necessitates the need to "manufacture" plans, relying on human logic and wisdom? Doesn’t that reveal to us our real poverty? Don’t we run the risk of offering the young ones, directions that are untrue or partially true in the pretext of good counsel?

If there are still committed people among the second and third line of leaders, it is only because they are not yet under our bad influence. They are still innocent enough to draw their strength from Jesus and not from us.

You and I must change. The change is painful but inevitable. If that needs stepping down from an official position, job - for Christ’s sake do it. God will honor you and use you in ways you cannot imagine. God does not need our skills, professional expertise or charisma but a lowly heart leaning to always to Him and that untiringly seeks to glorify Him.

When our submission to God is set right and we dispose ourselves to the will of God, He will use our skills, expertise and charisma not only to bring glory to His name and draw all men to God but also to provide for us our daily bread.

Need of the hour is to expose ourselves inside out in the presence of God and realize our defects in total humility. No one may dare to correct us today because of the positions we hold. If you and I do not do it ourselves, not only do we perish but we will also lead a large crowd of followers to eternal death. Jesus said in the gospel of Luke "When someone is given a great deal, a great deal will be demanded of that person; when someone is entrusted with a great deal, of that person even more will be expected". [12:48]

It is our own emptiness that leads us to control others. One who is "full" will be eager to give. As leaders, are we hungry lions entrusted to look after innocent lambs? If we have to become "enablers", our spiritual tanks must be full

The duty of a Christian leader is to identify, enable, motivate, correct, encourage, heal and guide and all this is done with a single intention in mind- that is to make the young one totally rely on God. As a leader, the part that we play in one’s life may be brief but crucial. Like St. Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians “I did the planting, Apollo’s did the watering, but God gave growth” [3:6]

If today we do not see new initiatives sprouting as before, it is because we have not been “loving enablers” but just been “capable directors”.

The one who reprimands a brother must at the same time take responsibility of nurturing him. We cannot just hurt someone in context of correcting him and leave him to dogs wishing, time will heal you brother! Have you not heard of the shepherds of the old who breaks the leg of the sheep that strays, but then on, carries it on his shoulders until the broken leg is healed and all the while feeding it by his own hands? The disobedience is overcome in patient love. Alas, how many lives have we ruined so far!

You and I today may be "using" people for the sake of executing a plan that's not completely God's. Often, because it is our own plan, we end up struggling to make it happen by our own effort, manipulating people and in the process we drain everyone out. We may walk away with a phony sense of achievement but it seldom edifies us spiritually.

On the contrary, If we make our lives, one of prayer and surrender without an agenda or precondition, like a clay in the hands of the potter, being super sensitive to what God is communicating, we will learn to discern what He wants us to do. And once we have discerned what is right, we only have to make ourselves available and the task is up to God to drive bring to fruition.

Processes we implement in our ministries must operate in love and truth. The Bible gives us few glimpses into how God appointed a leader by name Jeremiah. God says to Jeremiah “before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I appointed you as prophet to the nations". [Jer. 1:5] If you see carefully there are three keywords here. 1) Knew 2) Formed 3) Consecrated.

1) Do I really "know" the person?

The word “knowing” in Bible has a very deep meaning. This knowing is as intimate as the knowing in marriage [Gen 4:1]. It is not a superficial knowing but a spiritual knowing in true love, just as God knows [interacts and redeems by self giving]. Is my decision to choose a person because I really "know" him in the real sense of knowing or based on appearance and assumption?

2) Have I formed Him?

When God says I knew you before I formed you, He may be saying I know the purpose for which I have formed you.  If we partner with God, we also partake in God's plan for the formation of every individual we are called to lead. Unless we invest in a person, how can we expect him to be the one we intent him to be?

3) Did I consecrate someone too hastily for my own selfish reasons?

If we have not done our part in knowing and forming a person, we might be doing great harm by appointing him as a leader. It might be my lack of faith in God that is prompting me to move in a hurry.

If we lose our focus, we make structures and use men at our will to maintain these structures.  Let us be willing to breakdown structures and walls of our creation and allow God to structure us from within.

The young leaders of today are zealous, genuine and are capable. We as senior leaders need to trust them and be examples before them. When we become men of prayer, we also become compassionate, loving, understanding, always upholding the dignity of the other and considering all greater than ourselves. Make a conscious effort to avoid sin, focusing on the unconditional love of Jesus. Decide to sin no more and pray for deeper repentance for having grieved our dear Lord.  Do not get discouraged by the laxity and the recurrence of sin. Let tears of repentance and gratitude flow down our cheeks day and night, hoping in the unconditional forgiveness our Lord is capable of.  Our sinful nature fades off in the abounding love of Jesus. Loving Jesus is not an emotional exercise but an action springing forth form a decision. We must prove our love for Christ in the extra mile we walk. Do it to people who will never be able to pay it back for Jesus says “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”. [Mathew 25:40].

When humiliation and sufferings come our way do not wiggle away and make haste to send a thousand text messages asking people pray that we might not suffer. God sends us these trials to teach us and sanctify us and make us more like Him. In the face of suffering we must plead to God “may you will be done” Offer our trials and humiliation to God as a sweet smelling offering admitting “I deserve it”. But when you see other people suffer, we must pray ardently that God may heal them. Be eager to please God in all we do.

Let us hand yourselves over to the God of the Universe who will make us walk on water defying the laws of the nature, all for His glory and for the sake of the salvation of his children. I pray that you and I be truly a missionary at service of the church.