Currently, the football (soccer) world was taken by storm by an unheralded Leicester team that won through an emphatic season. Their was no stand out stars although certain names began to emerge. Similar to Greece in 2004 when they won the Euros with a group of players that were unknown to a wider audience. This is unusual, most teams will have a player who is considered a star and if the team is fortunate, they will have a number of stars (cf Real Madrid and their Galacticos).
However, it should be remembered that in team sports, a star player cannot win on their own. Think Pele with Brazil, Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, Kobe Bryant with the Lakers. None of these celebrity players could have won on their own – they needed a team around them, most of whom remain forgotten in the mists of time but were essential to the success of the team.
So it is with Church. There are many who would choose to be the Apostle Paul (yet shy away from the persecution and suffering), yet even Paul needed his support people. Many would like to be the author of a great book, new course, on the platform at the global conferences etc. etc. but we cannot ever lose sight of the community of faith. We are all called to play our part and to engage with the mission. Not all of us will receive the credit, praise or be given a platform but all of us are called to love one another, seek each others best interest and to honour the name of God.
Let’s serve the team and be humble enough to accept our place within it. Lets be satisfied to be the Horace Grant, Steve Kerr, Brian Shaw, or Wilson Piazza on our team.
In a work place that demands higher productivity, greater rewards and demands visible success it is no surprise that people are falling ill, requiring medication and suffering continual stress. The bottom line is market dominance, share price and brand awareness and if we are honest, this thinking has invaded the evangelical church to such a point that we are losing sight of God and building a church that is the bridesmaid and not the Bride.
We can quote sport stars that tell us ‘some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen and others make it happen’ (Michael Jordan) and put unknowing pressure on ourselves to perform. We need our church plants to be financially viable but try and model our churches on a franchise set up without reference to the community they serve, we want to see full pews in buildings that were built in a different generation…..the list is endless.
If you quoted that previous quote at Jim Elliot (missionary to the Aucas) his ministry would have seemed like failure. With the years that have passed, we can now credit the success of the ministry but it is only now that we can celebrate knowing that the Auca people met Christ. The disciples sat huddled in a room as their messiah was dead and defeated but in time they discover their resurrected Lord had conquered death.The missionary to London who has sowed seeds of faith continually in their neighbourhood and may never see the rewards but the person that follows…..Boom!
Goals are killing us…..because we are setting the wrong goals. The goal is to be faithful to a living God, to worship Him, living a life worthy of the calling we have received. We must not remain idle, we are fellow workers with Christ and will be held accountable for what we have done but we must reset the balance and set the right goals, otherwise our goals will kill us. It is not the balance sheet, it is not the numbers of seats filled, it is not the number of churches we have planted (they may be indicators of something…but do not over estimate their value) but the obedience to our call and the way we live our lives.
Set the right goals…..and know life.
We talk a great deal about partnership between organisations but we need to recognise that partnership may have limitations. Each and every organisation has its own strategic aims and objectives and whilst the synergy of partnership will strengthen everyone, there is always the hurdle of autonomy within it that will need to be negotiated.
For a healthy partnership, it is essential to have a respect for the autonomy of the other party in terms of its goals and objectives alongside its own hard fought for identity. This is why a partnership requires clear objectives to underline the value and the goals of the relationship. What are we trying to achieve? What is the purpose of the partnership? What does success look like?
For the Church and mission, partnership is essential. The way we engage and have love for one another will determine the level of its success.
We all know the dream. Imagine the possibilities, the things we could achieve, the lives we could change….IF ONLY…we had more volunteers. Then the world would be in a good place. WRONG!
Usually those dreams centre around capacity building and fail to consider the relational requirements of teams and especially requirements of teams who are full of volunteers. If you want to build a volunteer team, you must drop some of your own engagement with the frontline work and invest into those who sacrificial my give time. If you do not…you will not increase capacity, you will increase frustration.
Sometimes we are just to busy and the fall guys are those who willingly give their time. Don’t be too busy to help your team. If you want to grow, it is essential.
Treat volunteers as a fully paid staff member, the rewards for the organisation will be huge. Clear job roles, clear line management, good training, proper support, annual reviews, feedback…..etc.
You get the picture, if not you are too busy for volunteers.
Dyson loves talking about the importance of failure in his life as an industrial designer. “I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right,” said Dyson. “There were 5,126 failures, but I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure.” He goes on to argue that we often fool ourselves into believing that successful products emerge from a moment of “effortless brilliance.” To him, failures provide keen insights that enable the invention of unique products. Dyson explains: “We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It’s exciting, actually.”
“Toxic leadership can come in a variety of forms, but basically when leadership is bad, it’s because the leaders aren’t putting themselves in the shoes of the people they’re leading. People want to know that their leaders have as much skin in the game as they do……There are many factors that influence the success of a leader, but leaders that put their people first will build the trust and loyalty that is required to effectively lead.”
We often equate success with reaching the top of he mountain – we set goals and once reached we can bask in glory. The truth is that this is only a part of the story. This last few weeks, climbers are using a window in the weather to scale Everest – so many that there are queues of people in places. As people climb, they can see the bodies of the fallen – some who never conquered the summit, some who did.
Success is not found by conquering the mountain alone – success is found in returning safely, the mountain top is just a junction on the journey. It can be too easy to be seduced by a ‘false success’ – returning home is the important thing. Success is the journey, not the junction on the way.