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Leier Newsletters: June 2017: Part 1

Vision characteristics that every church leader should have

Many people have titles and positions. Positional leadership doesn't require talent and leadership skills – it only requires a title or position. The people with the characteristics mentioned below are probably the true leaders in the congregation, regardless of their position. Leaders lead, whether they have titles or a high position, or not.

You can't be a successful leader without a vision. Your journey should have a destination.

1. Effective leaders see the future before others see it.

As leaders perform their daily duties, they should be proactive in identifying difficult questions about the congregation's future. Do we have any influence on the community around us? Do the members of our congregation understand our purpose? Do we know where we will be in five years? Do members see the challenges that lie before us? Are our current structures, staff and facilities adequate? These are only a few of the questions that visionary leaders grapple with every day.

2. Effective leaders see far into the future.

Others only see from one Sunday to the next. Still others see nothing more than the next big event. Leaders must have eagle-eye vision. They should see things that others only see once they get there. Many church leaders dream about the past, or they don't look past the next big event. Leaders lead with the future in mind. They look past current problems towards a better season in the future. They communicate and inspire others to a better future.

Because of this vision, the congregation's future changes. It grows towards the future that God planted in the leader's heart. Obstacles, problems and conflict are all part of the process. Leaders have to keep their eyes on the prize, no matter how difficult the current situation looks.

3. Effective leaders see the future more clearly than others.

They put things into perspective and make it easy to see. They see things that others don't see and can explain what those things mean. It helps to answer the 'how' in terms of the church's direction.

Leaders lead. In the church, they also preach and pray, but you have to lead the church into the future. Preach excellently, pray with passion and lead with vision.

Seven things that every leader should banish immediately

Leaders do certain things every day. Some of it is valuable, others don't contribute much. There are some things that leaders should eliminate immediately.

1. Intentions

People won't remember your intentions. They only see your actions. Your legacy isn't built on your intentions, but rather on your actions. Forget about your intentions – rather do something.

2. Avoid certain words

If you want things to get done, you should avoid certain words – words like 'someone', 'one day', 'something', etc. – 'Someone should do something about this some time,' is a guarantee that nothing will happen. It effectively means the leadership doesn't want to do anything – it is misleading to only talk.

3. Unnecessary meetings

Meetings to confirm a few executive details or to synchronize the team have very little value. Too many leaders waste their time in meetings instead of doing what they were called to do. Meetings are the biggest killers of dreams. Some leaders have meetings about what must be done, instead of doing what must be done. Meetings are the enemies of work.

4. Fear

Fear kills hope and courage. Many leaders live in fear. The difference between effective leaders and ineffective leaders is their reaction to fear. All leaders should feel fear, but effective leaders keep going in spite of fear. Leaders should fear the right things.

5. The wish that people should like you

Leadership means taking people to places they wouldn't be able to reach without your leadership. Leadership is difficult, because it means you lead people to places they wouldn't normally go. You have a choice: Lead people, or focus on getting people to like you. If you put your focus on getting people to like you, you will only do what they like. You'll only end up confused. You'll do everything to keep everyone happy. In the end, no one will be happy. You won't have the courage to do what needs to be done.

6. Selfishness

Ambition can be a good thing. It is great to have hopes and dreams for your ministry. But selfish ambition is a different story. Ambition kills service to God – it makes people servants of themselves.

7. Blaming others

It is easy to blame others for your failures. If you don't want to grow as a leader, keep blaming others. The opposite of blame, is to accept responsibility. Big leaders never blame others, but they take responsibility.

Bill Gates and smartphones for kids

If the man who caused modern computer technology to develop so fast, tells us that we should keep technology away from children, we should know that our obsession with technology has gone too far. Bill Gates doesn't think children younger than 14 should have smartphones. He and his wife also limits screen time in order to make more time for family. No phones are allowed at the dinner table.

In Australia, 20% of children younger than 10 years have a smartphone. 75% of 12-year-olds have smartphones. When Steve Jobs, the famous co-founder of Apple, was asked what his children thought of the iPad, he said: 'I really don't know, because it is banned in our house.'

Why do people leave the faith?

Atheism is spreading, especially after the books of Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation) and Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) was published. The core of this 'New Atheism' is the idea that evolution makes believing in God unnecessary, and that those who still believe in God are damaging to society. If you want to be part of the 'in' crowd, you have to throw God out.

What is interesting, is that in our culture it is more important to throw faith out than it is to become an atheist. They are complete 'non-believers'. They say: 'If there is a God, I'm not sure that we can know much about Him.'

Why this increase in non-belief? There are intellectual reasons, of course, but we will never understand this group by only focusing on arguments. Our faith problems get stuck in our thoughts, but they don't necessarily start there.

In Romans 1:18–19 (NIV), Paul reveals the cause of non-belief:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

So, why this increase in non-belief? Why can't we believe that what God says is true? Paul says it isn't because our proof of Him is incomplete. The problem is that our sinful hearts refuse to believe God. Our faith problems aren't primarily intellectual problems – they are primarily problems of the heart.

Why don't we believe? Our hearts desire two things that faith in God doesn't give us:

1. Our hearts desire self-glorification

We believe that God will always act in ways that we can understand. Do we really believe that we understand every intention of an almighty God? The problem is that we glorify ourselves and our own wisdom. In the process, we have diminished God's wisdom. We seek to glorify ourselves if we try to shrink God to our level – if we put our wisdom against God's.

2. Our hearts desire self-gratification

These people have usually experienced a moral problem that later turned into an intellectual problem. Many young people, when exposed to an environment where they feel 'freedom', move their moral compass to suit their new lifestyle.

It is usually the heart that leads thoughts. We seek gratification of our sinful desires first, followed by an explanation why these desires aren't really harmful.

This is why Paul says that these people suppress the truth by their wickedness. Our hearts are so set on self-gratification that we can resist everything. It makes us blind to the testimony of our Creator. Because we believe that God is an obstacle to the gratification of our desires, we move Him out of the way by not believing in Him.

Our faith problems are heart problems. It helps to look for intellectual answers to our doubt, but we need an answer to the problems of our hearts even more. Someone should show us that our problem of self-glorification is preventing us from seeing that we were made to glorify God.

We need someone to take away our sins of gratification and our sinful desires and to show us that there is eternal wholeness and happiness in God's presence. We need a Redeemer that chose humiliation over glory, who chose to die instead of satisfying His own desires. We need Jesus Christ more than anything else.

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