Engaging with homeless people I encounter has become a joy and a passion for me. My friend Bobby Hegedish has discovered a similar calling. I think you will love his story of a homeless veteran.
Beginning with an earlier post about Authentic Leadership, or Taking our Cues on Leading from Jesus, I am doing a series of posts about some of the heart qualities of leadership that Jesus exhibited and exhorted us to. Today’s post is about serving.
Patches, our Australian Shepherd, took her breeding seriously. She was a shepherd dog, with no sheep or cattle to herd, so she sought to shepherd people.
Ever so gently she would grab wrists with her mouth and seek to lead—almost anyone she encountered. Unfortunately we lived at a conference grounds, and the conferees she took hold of were first, terrified, and second, totally unwilling to go where she was leading them.
That’s a problem a lot of leaders have: getting people to follow them. What’s a leader without followers?
I’ve known Steve Douglass for about 44 years. We’ve been married for more than 38 of those years. So I think I’m qualified to define some of his strong points—which may or may not be what his Strengths Finders list named.
Here are just a few of his amazing strengths:
Humility—Steve lives out of a humble spirit. I think he’s one of the smartest people I know, and it shows when he analyzes situations and solves problems and comes up with ideas. But he never makes anyone feel “less smart” and he never puts himself above others. His humility is deep and genuine.
Believing the Best—He always believes the best about me and about others. Whenever I might find something to criticize—or “edit”—in someone else, he is quick to point out that “surely his/her heart is right.” He consistently gives the benefit of the doubt.
Serving—This man is always looking for ways to serve me: my morning coffee, washing dishes and doing laundry, picking something up at the store, helping me up from our very deep sofa, brainstorming ideas for talks or blog posts. He serves our neighborhood by picking up trash as he walks—everyone in the neighborhood knows him. He is quick to drop what he is doing when someone has a need.
Following up—I know this is a helpful strength. It grows out of his desire to make sure everything is done well and nothing needful is forgotten. But still it isn’t my favorite strength, because he does practice it consistently, always checking to make sure things are done.
Partnering—Oh how I love how we partner together—in our marriage, in parenting, in ministry. Our values and commitments are so compatible and our strengths and weaknesses seem perfectly complementary. He makes shared leadership an easy reality.
Coaching—If God had not called him to lead in ministry, I think he would be a coach. He has coached sports for much of his life, most significantly Debbie’s soccer team. I think the girls on his team and their parents would say he was great at coaching each girl to develop her strengths, to contribute her best and to grow into an amazing woman. He was able to assess strengths and weaknesses of opposing teams and help our team make adjustments to play the game where we were strongest.
Trusting God—Sometimes this one makes me a little jealous. I have many conversations with God about things he is working on in my life or asking me to do. I eventually come around. Steve, though, reads it in the Word or hears it from God and he does it. He trusts God’s character, His goodness, His sovereignty—and lives accordingly.
Of course, he has been a loving husband and dad and now “Papa.” And there are many more strengths I could name. But these are ones I have seen him live out day by day and even moment by moment in his family, in the ministry, with friends and strangers.
I often ask God to grow some of these strengths in me.
What about you? What are strengths you see God growing in you?
Recently I participated in the Christian Leadership Alliance conference on The Authentic Leader.
Some great leaders/teachers/speakers called us to lead out of authentic walks with God, in the reality of who we are and where we succeed and struggle.
“Team,” “Collaborative” and “Shared” partner with “Leadership” now, as in Team Leadership. This growing synergic approach is a worthy goal, desired by many, but challenging for many as well. Historical hierarchical approaches to leadership don’t change easily. The concepts of “authority” and “boss” frequently continue to prevail, even in surprising places. It’s difficult to change culture—whether in a nation, a company or an individual.
Christianity Today magazine is hosting a campaign called “What is your hope for the church?” I have responded with the following piece about my church, Antioch21 in Orlando. It is posted on the CTI site, where you can read other contributions, or share your own.
I love my church!
It is different from any church I have been a part of before—though I have been a part of some good churches.
It is those differences that make me love it—I think they reflect what Jesus really wants His body to look and act like.
And because I see many other churches beginning to embrace such living like Jesus, I have hope for the Church.
Let me just list a few of the ways my church lives out Jesus’ call to His bride:
- The main stuff happens in gospel communities. These either gather by neighborhood or by affinity. Believers and nonbelievers. They eat together, study together, pray together, serve each other and serve the broader community together. People meet Jesus in these communities.
- We eat together as a larger church. We come together on Sunday evenings (as guests of a long-time church) and share a meal together.
- We started as a student church, but neighbors and friends came to the gospel communities, and then to our larger gathering. We didn’t know we would have lots of children, but we do, and the college students are helping to teach and mentor.
- We study the Word together. Our pastor introduces our topic and passage, we sit around tables and discuss, he preaches, we talk together again, he wraps it up. We apply in our lives.
- We worship with giving and serving and music. One young woman is the worship leader, but different members lead our worship time each week.
- We have communion each Sunday, served by different members, young and old, men and women.
- We are multi-ethnic.
- We serve the broader community, led by our pastor and his wife, who live out the Jesus life of serving as well as anyone I have ever seen.
- At the same time, we share the love of Christ boldly and clearly.
- We love each other—most of the time.
This isn’t all. And many churches do at least some of these things. We are not perfect, of course. And our fallen world keeps inserting itself. But we are seeking to truly follow Jesus—and that gives me hope.
What about you? What is your hope for the church?
C2012 Judy Douglas