Leadership and Suffering are Synonymous

Leadership and suffering are synonymous. That’s not exactly true, but it’s mostly true.

I’m convinced after nearly 14 years of ministry, planting Renovation Church, and leading in various other capacities, that in order to be a great leader you must endure trial and suffering. 

Consider Paul, arguably one of the greatest leaders in human history. Before he became a disciple of Jesus, he was a leader among the religious elite. After he encountered Christ and experienced his first suffering—instant blindness—he went on to make history by planting numerous churches, raising up leaders, and writing some 2/3 of our New Testament, he was a phenomenal leader. But what shaped him? In 2 Corinthians 11 he tells us:

“23 Are they ministers of Christ? I am talking like a madman—I am a better one: with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death. 24 Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. 28 And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches.

  • Flogged/Rods/Lashes
  • Imprisoned
  • Left for Dead
  • Stoned
  • Shipwrecked
  • Adrift at Sea
  • Danger of Every Kind
  • Sleepless, Hungry, Thirsty, Cold, Naked
  • AND Stressed from the Church

These were the things Paul suffered, at least those he actually listed. Why? Because Jesus said this much: “I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name [Acts 9:16].” Why? Because these things made him the compassionate, strong, resolute, kind, vigilant, humble leader that we’ve come to know. All great leadership is forged in the cauldron of suffering. 

This idea is disconcerting, I know. But history has confirmed its truth. Your suffering and mine may not be to the degree that Paul endured, but if we are to lead, we will suffer. Suffering cultivates the heart and hews the character necessary to handle success and steward influence. And how we respond to it will determine the type of leader we become.

Augustine once wrote, “Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We actually progress by means of trial. We do not know ourselves except through trial, or receive a crown except after victory.” If you are going to lead, you are going to suffer. How will you respond?

What Matters Most

Most days I leave before my family wakes, and there are a few that I have returned when both of my girls were already asleep. It is ridiculous to go an entire day and not see the people who matter most to you…even in the name of the mission of God. Most of us spend so much time running, that we neglect what matters most, and run right through our lives until we wake up one day and wonder where it’s gone. This is the shortest blog post I’ve ever written, but maybe one of the most important. God does not expect us to sacrifice our families at the altar of ministry. If this convicts you the way it did me, repent and carve out time to give your family the best of you, not whats left over.

How Are they Sent of God?

…Men who bring no men to God?

Prophets whose words are powerless

Sowers who’s seed all whithers

Fishers who take in no Fish

Soldiers who give no wounds

Are these God’s men?-C.H. Spurgeon

This gripped me…thought I would share it. If you are a minster of the gospel, I hope it grips you too

Culture Clash: Where Gentrification and ‘Hood Meet Pt. 2

Take for example the shopping center 1.2 miles from my home where we do all of our grocery shopping. There is a Target, Barnes and Noble, Kroger, Carribou Coffee, Best Buy, Lowes, Rue Sans(Sushi), Wachovia (Bank), and a Smoothie King, not to mention several upscale ($200 or more a pair)shoe stores, shops, and boutiques. It possesses all of the qualities of the “rough” areas of Seattle, so by my general definition, it is no longer a depressed area…except, because of gentrification and trend changes, for this situation, my definition is blown…why? The liquor store three blocks from this shopping center was robbed, and the clerk was shot to death just two month’s ago. Just this past Sunday, a shoot out between two vehicles occurred in that same shopping center just a few hours after my family and I finished buying groceries there.

The point to this discourse is that the dividing lines between rich and poor, safe and dangerous, ‘hood and hip are no longer so clear. This is a changing landscape that as a Pastor to this city I am going to have to carefully examine to understand, so that we can most effectively and faithfully engage and reach this entire area that does not in anyway lend itself to homogeneous ministry, if we are being true to engaging the whole of the community. How we will reconcile our culture clashes, I do not fully have an answer to yet, but for anyone else seeking to move into and work for the welfare of any major city through Gospel transformation, this is a question that has to be answered.

Culture Clash: Where Gentrification and ‘Hood Meet Pt. 1

I went to Seattle recently to visit my boy’s at Mars Hill and get my retrain on, and me and Mike Anderson had an interesting conversation. We were talking about crime, impoverished neighborhoods, and the gospel. He then told me about the “ghetto” in Seattle, and some of what are considered the “rough” areas. You may notice that I have placed both ghetto and rough in quotations, it is indeed to show sarcasm, because what I discovered in seeing these areas made me come to the conclusion that if these were the rough areas of Seattle, then Seattle truly had no ghetto.

You see, in true ‘hood areas, there are things you find and things you don’t. Banks, Grocery Stores, Coffee shops, Sushi Bars, Target, Barnes and Noble etc. you do not find in the ghetto…why? Because these businesses generally do not feel they can be profitable in depressed area’s of the city. What you do find in depressed areas of metropolitan cities are Liquor Stores, Pawn Shops, Corner Stores (that charge 80 cents for one pack of Kool Aid, true story, a couple blocks from my house), Burned out or Abandoned Buildings, and masses of people standing on street corners. The “rough” area’s of Seattle had all of the former and none of the latter.

Something interesting seems to be taking place in recent years though in some major cities. As Young Professionals, and Urban Hipster’s are moving back into cities, and gentrification is happening in once depressed area’s, we are starting to see some light and some severe culture clash. Example…I live in Grant Park (Downtown Atlanta) Atlanta’s oldest and most historic neighborhood. I live off of MLK, and everyone I know who doesn’t live here or isn’t familiar with what has taken place here always asks me, “you living in the hood now?” Well technically, yes, but conventionally, no. I live in what was once an abandoned warehouse turned chic overpriced loft space, with gated parking. More directly, I am living in what I would consider a mostly gentrified neighborhood. And it is diverse by race, ethnicity, culture and class. It is amazing to me to see $40,000 BMW’s drive past homeless guys pissing in the street, and yet, I see it everyday. We have what is now a culture clash, and it is starting to spill over in more severe ways.

to be continued

Jesus Is, “Not Typology, but Instinct”

Excerpts from Tim Keller’s Sermon, “What constitutes Gospel-Centered Ministry”
In his message, Keller presented the following:

* Jesus is the true and better Adam, who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.
* Jesus is the true and better Abel, who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out not for our condemnation, but for our acquittal.
* Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar, and go out into the void, not knowing whither he went, to create a new people of God.
* Jesus is the true and better Isaac, who was not just offered up by his Father on the mount,but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “now I know you love me, because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me, now we can look at God, taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing Him, and say,” now we know that you love us, because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from us.”
* Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserve, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.
* Jesus is the true and better Joseph, who at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold Him, and uses His new power to save them.
* Jesus is the true and better Moses, who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.
* Jesus is the true and better rock of Moses who was struck with the rod of God’s justice, and now gives us water in the desert.
* Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.
* Jesus is the true and better David, whose victory becomes his people’s victory though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.
* Jesus is the true and better Esther, who didn’t just risk losing an earthly palace, but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.
* Jesus is the true and better Jonah, who was cast out into the storm so we could be brought in.
* He is the real passover lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so that the angel of death would pass over us

Keller said something curious after communicating this list   “That’s not typology,” he said, “that’s an instinct.”

There is something to be said about an instinctual love and vision for Jesus in everything…we want to know that He is at the center of all that is right and beautiful…this can’t be taught, only caught in quiet places before the face of the King.

Thanks to Jared Wilson for posting this list…..

Driscoll Notes A29 Boot Camp Day 1

  • Jesus was a spirit filled, spirit led missionary
  • Pentecost is the work of the cross applied
  • Jesus is fully God and fully man, but He laid aside the continual use of His deity (Phil. 3)
  • Jesus life is the spirit filled and spirit led life that we should attain to
  • Christ means anointed of the Holy Spirit
  • Jesus’ ministry began after being anointed by the Holy Spirit
  • Holy Spirit descends on Jesus to begin His missionary work; The Holy Spirit descends on the Church in Acts to do the mission and ministry of Jesus
  • The Holy Spirit will lead you into temptation
  • Stop worrying so much about marketing and get alone with God, studying in solitude, worship, and repentance
  • Silence and solitude precede preaching and teaching
  • Anointed means to be like Jesus
  • We must rejoice in the spirit because we can not rejoice in ministry, performance, attendance, or groups
  • You are a martyr, you are trading your life for the Church of Jesus
  • Anyone who doesn’t call people to repentance is a heretic
  • Jesus’ love is transformational, not emotional