Leader Newsletter October 2017 | Part II
Lose your anchors if you want to fly
Only a fool believes he can move forward with anchors chained to his feet. But many leaders hold on to beliefs and actions that prevent success. Success requires that you lose your anchors. Here are three such anchors:
1. Lose the anchor of expecting everything to be easy.
Service has value when it meets needs. Service doesn’t mean you should be a slave or that you should make life easier for others.
Think about giving even if it hurts. Hurt yourself in order to help others.
Set boundaries that are determined by your values. Learn to say ‘no’, but do it surreptitiously. Never sacrifice your family to serve others.
If you say ‘no’, suggest an alternative.
2. Lose the anchor of holding on to transgressions.
People will disappoint you. People won’t notice the things that you do. You may not get all the credit you deserve, even when you’ve done most of the work.
Bitterness pollutes you.
Mention mistakes delicately. Don’t simply barge in and claim your rights. Rather think about how you can strengthen relationships
Accept responsibility for you own mishaps. Perhaps you should’ve communicated better.
Find solutions rather than pointing fingers.
3. Lose the anchor of waiting for the perfect moment.
Start, even if things aren’t 100% in place. Waiting for the perfect moment is a myth. Explain what you’re trying to do and why it can’t wait.
What to do if your congregation reaches a plateau?
This is a very common crisis, but not one that cannot be fixed. Rick Warren gives three possibilities:
1. The longer your congregation spends on the plateau, the longer it will take to recover.
There is immense power in momentum. It takes a lot of time and energy to get going. For a congregation, change requires many small changes and a long time in which to complete them. As the leader of a congregation that has reached a plateau, you should pray for patience. People change very slowly. They resist change, because they realise that the life they were used to, will never be again. Church members will fight change and you will need time to convince them that change is necessary.
2. You love everyone, but you move with those who move.
Don’t show partiality; care for everyone, but move with those who move. Jesus spent a lot of time with those who could carry the maximum responsibility. He fed 5000, but spent most of His time with the twelve. Even there He had an inner circle of three. Paul refers to them – Peter, James and John – as the pillars of the church, because they carried the maximum responsibility.
You should identify these people – those who are willing to change. Identify them and set them in motion. Build your vision through them.
3. Be prepared for conflict
It will definitely happen. Everyone wants the congregation to grow – up to a certain point. Everyone is excited when visitors start attending Sunday services. That is, until those visitors bring change and things start moving away from the traditional centre of gravity. In each congregation there are people who’ve been there before the current leaders.
Change is never easy. Be sure of your calling; be prepared for a long process and move with the church members who move – and slowly you will turn the ship around.
Should I be a member of a congregation?
Membership to a congregation is a concept that isn’t explicitly stated in the Bible, but is accepted and supported. Many of the letters in the New Testament were written to congregations with instructions on how they should manage their life as a group (1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians and Philippians). Membership is common today, just as if has been throughout history.
Why membership to a congregation is important.
1. Theological reasons
There are certain truths about God – who He is and what He does – that uses ‘membership language’. When God caused you to be reborn, He established a new relationship with you. (Ephesians 2:4-5). He predestined us to be His children through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5). (Colossians 1:13). 1 Corinthians 12:13 says .
Membership to God’s universal church happens when the Holy Spirit spiritually unites us with the body of Christ. Membership to a local congregation is when we unite with our fellow believers in a physical place. Membership to a congregation represents membership to the universal church.
2. Covenant reasons
A covenant is an agreement or relationship with responsibilities. Underlying this relationship is an oath. When we become believers, we become part of a new covenant. God promises to be our God, to forgive our sins, to give the Spirit to us and to write His law in our hearts. When we become part of this covenant, we agree to follow and trust Him. In the words of Jeremiah 31:1: Easy, isn’t it? You become a Christian and things change. You have a relationship with God and a duty to follow Him. This covenant with God also implies a relationship with others, which leads to a number of other duties. This is why we have membership to a congregation. If we join a congregation, we promise to take responsibility for each other.
3. Evangelistic reasons
Meaningful membership to a congregation communicates something about the worth of the Gospel. Membership is a declaration to each other and the world about what a true creed of the Gospel looks like. One of the primary responsibilities of a church member is to evaluate the current lives of his fellow members. The members declare to the world: this is the correct creed. We stand by our brothers and sisters as they represent Jesus in the world.
4. Practical reasons
In order to do the things that are expected of the congregation, there should be a way to distinguish those we are talking about. Ministers are called to guard over their flock, knowing that they will be held accountable. We also see this in the concept of church discipline – discipline and exclusion can only happen in the arena of a specific and identifiable group of people. God Himself has a list of names in His book of life (Revelation 20:12).
Meaningful membership helps us to see who we share this New Covenant with and for whom we are responsible.
WHO IS SENECA?
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Stoic philosopher. He was the first Stoic of whom several literary documents survived. He was born in Spain as the son of Seneca the Elder. His reputation was mixed. His writings were practical and timeless. He used the search for wisdom to navigate the inevitable ups and downs of life. His thoughts influenced historical personalities like Pascal and Francois Bacon. His thoughts still resonate with us: ‘We didn’t receive a short life, we make it short. We receive enough, but choose to waste it.’
When Claudius became emperor, he banned Seneca to Corsica. There he stayed for eight years until Agrippina, Nero’s mother, secured his release. Seneca became Nero’s teacher and later his advisor. Nero went on to become one of the cruellest emperors of the Roman Empire. People accused Seneca of being false – how could someone with so much wisdom teach Nero? If you serve an evil person like Nero, you become rich. Seneca became rich, but Nero suspected that Seneca was part of a plot to have him assassinated, and ordered Seneca to take his own life. Seneca did as he was asked and killed himself.
Seneca and another Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, used philosophy to live. They wanted to know how wisdom could be used to handle the inevitable problems of life. The lessons that we can learn from them, are timeless.
Here are a few quotations from Seneca:
“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” — Seneca
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” — Seneca
“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” — Seneca
“A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.” — Seneca
“All cruelty springs from weakness.” — Seneca
“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.” — Seneca
“If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.” — Seneca
“He suffers more than necessary, who suffers before it is necessary.” — Seneca
“Timendi causa est nescire – Ignorance is the cause of fear.” — Seneca
“It does not matter what you bear, but how you bear it.” — Seneca
“The man who has anticipated the coming of troubles takes away their power when they arrive.” — Seneca
“The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.” — Seneca