Monday, February 26, 2007

Leadership

What does it mean to be a leader? I suppose that first it means the leader is a person who leads others on some journey. That is true, but why would people want to follow a leader except that the leader has or knows something that they do not know. A leader has knowledge and a leader must know the way, or at least convince some folks that he knows the way.

A fishing guide is a leader and he must be a person who knows how to fish and where to fish. A coach is a leader who must know football and how to teach football. It helps if the coach has been a successful player but it isn’t really necessary. A good teacher must know the subject and be able to transmit the information into the student in such a way that the student can use that knowledge and demonstrate that it is now learned. That is the reason for these tests that the students have been taking this week. Demonstrating their level of learning.

But what about the average Christian? Are we leaders in some way? The church seems to push all of us to be evangelists – teachers of The Way so that others can become followers. Our church says that our reason for being – our focus – our life is all about making disciples of Jesus Christ by sharing God’s grace and love. It’s a great mission statement but it doesn’t mean anything at all if we don’t live that mission in our daily lives. We are called upon by the church to be leaders of the faith in this community and in the world.

It is not just the pastor who needs to follow the rules – it is all of us, who act together in the same manner who will lead the community to know who this Jesus is that we are talking about each week.

Do you want to be a faithful follower of Jesus – a spiritual leader in the community? Do you want to be a leader and not a follower? Do you want to live the real authentic Christian life?

Listen, for the answer isn’t all that easy. There are two basic principles for the truly authentic spiritual, Christian, life.

1. the first is to be wholly and completely dedicated to the Lord: to spend all of your energy – the time that you have – on God and what God expects.

2. the second is to use the clarity about God’s expectations as a standard of accountability against which you measure your own lifestyle and your relationships and your career.

You see the spiritual life – the life of credibility – the life of a leader is not really a matter of rules or liturgies or sacrifices or even obligations. The life of a truly credible leader is one that focuses on God and God’s desires for our lives. And the more we surrender to God, and align ourselves with God’s purposes, the more we free ourselves from the clutches of desire and temptation from the world.

I didn’t say it was easy. Jesus didn’t say it was easy either. But that is the place we need to start each day – in prayer – asking Jesus to help us walk with him. Finally, I think that being a leader is a matter of character. And our character is who we are when no one is looking. Have a great week, come and see us next Sunday and let's talk some about the truly authentic spiritual life.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Surgery

Well, there is no sermon material for this week because I have been in quite a different position this week. I have been in the hospital and had some surgery. The surgery was to correct a condition that I have had for several years, so I should soon begin to be in better health than before. But that is not the subject of my thoughts this morning.

I am sure that there are plenty of folks who want to know the "gory" details, so to speak, but they really aren't important. What I experienced though was important to me. What I have experienced was so much care and concern from people whom I never met before and probably will never meet again.

This morning, I saw Diane Sawyer on television as she was accosted in Iran by people shouting "death to America," only to be kissed on the cheek by a woman from the crowd. In a strange place, she experienced people who hated her culture but not her. As I watched her, I thought about my experience with strangers. I gave my body over to them to care for. I trusted them to do their jobs well so that I could have improved health. I don't know anything at all about the people who cared for me. There were people from all backgrounds and except for my friends and my doctor, I don't know the religion of any of those folks at all. Yet, every one of them took care of me as if I were their father, brother, friend.

My thoughts were that we can all get along, if we would see others as individuals who need friends and help. The problem is that our political ideals and policies get in the way. Now this isn't a blog against any governmental position, but one to say that our positions do count. Our ideas and our policies affect real people in the world where they live.

I am grateful that there are folks who didn't care if I was a Methodist or what I was at all. They only cared that I was a person who needed their help. I am also grateful to be surrounded by a wife who loves me and by friends and church members who care so very much too. I look forward to getting back to work and leading the church again as we try to learn how to care for individuals regardless of where they come from. As Jesus taught us, the rules we have and the teachings we have received from God are for us to help each other become better. God does love us and loves others.

Come by sometime, let's talk about it. Allen