The Blogference Day 3 Posts!

Welcome to The Blogference Day 3!

Here is the list of today’s posts:

Bridging the Gap Between 50 Year Olds and 20 Year Olds, by Brian Barela, in Leadership

Pursuing the Good in Ethnic Ministry, by Brian Virtue, in Leadership

Surviving vs. Thriving in College: What Do You Think It Takes? By Alex Chediak, in Leadership

Click on the title of each post to read it. To leave a comment, you will need to be logged into Facebook. When you post the comment you can choose whether or not to share your comment on your Facebook profile.

Bridging the Gap Between 50 Year Olds and 20 Year Olds

The ability to translate the meaning and intention of a person above and below is a critical to an organization’s future. Having spent ten years on staff with Cru I have observed that there are a lot of 50 year olds, and a lot of 20 year olds.

As I have sought to pursue change the biggest challenge has been translating my passions and ideas into language that those with decision making power understand. I’ve also learned that’s it not the quality of the idea that primarily causes change–which can be particularly frustrating for younger leaders who do not understand that there is more to making changes than coming up with ideas.

On a day to day basis a huge gap between 50 and 20 year olds is the way each other give and prefer to receive encouragement. 50 year olds often prefer to communicate encouragement as exhortation, which many 20 year olds experience as inauthentic and uncaring. 20 year olds often prefer to communicate encouragement by casual conversation and “hanging out,” which 50 year olds often experience as rude, unprofessional, or inappropriate.

What 20 Year Olds Need to Know About Their Ideas

  • They are not THAT great
  • They are EXTREMELY valuable to explore
  • In a large organization it often takes 10x longer than you think to get a new idea implemented

 

They are not THAT great
Seriously there are people with more experience and wisdom than you. Your idea comes out of a specific and unique context–corporate or organizational decisions are made in light of the whole. An original idea needs to flex and iterate and bend in order to make it to the top. If you are willing to lose all of your idea but the core concept than you stand a great chance of seeing change happen.

 

They are EXTREMELY valuable to exploreEven though your idea is not that great, it’s still extremely valuable to the organization. 20 year olds are usually closest to the target group of any organization–if we are to be relevant in 5, 10, and 20 years than these ideas are critical to understanding what cultural changes are happening and how to potentially solve them at the corporate level. For those in the 50 year old camp, understand that 20 year olds value being heard and would be extremely encouraged to KNOW that you have considered their idea–acknowledging the value of an idea does not obligate you to fund or move forward with it. In fact it would help 20 year olds tremendously to hear critical feedback about their idea so that they can go back to the drawing board and come up with a better iteration of their idea.



In a large organization it often takes 10x longer than you think to get an idea implementedJust because you have thought about an idea for a long time does not mean that others have. It takes time for people to absorb new ideas and think about the implications. Realize also that new ideas disrupt other people’s current reality–if you want to get an idea acted on be prepared for resistance, find people who are older than you that believe in the idea, and work with them to educate and demonstrate it’s value in tangible results.

What are some helpful ways you have found to bridge this gap? If you are close to or on the 50 year old side, what do 20 year olds need to know? If you are closer to the 20 year old side, what do 50 year olds need to know to help them understand you better? 

 

Pursuing the Good in Ethnic Ministry

Reaching ethnic minorities has become more important than ever. As we cross cultures it is important for us to reflect on how we relate to the people we are trying to reach.

 

This summer three majority culture ministers working with Impact, Epic, and Destino wrote an article describing some of the various postures we have taken or seen others take in the process. This excerpt from the article, “Five Majority Culture Postures Towards Ethnic Minority Ministry” sums it up well:

“As Caucasians [white, dominant culture ministers], we carry with us the capacity to reinforce much of the pain that ethnic minorities have experienced and absorbed both in their lifetimes and through generations of systemic marginalization. We can’t escape the larger story of which we are all connected. But when we as Caucasians begin to relate to ethnic minority communities in ways that bring honor, rather than take it away (albeit often unknowingly), there are great opportunities to open doors for healing, reconciliation, and empowerment.

We think most ethnic ministry is done with good intentions. But not all seek to partner in ways in which there is mutual blessing and dignity. We cannot partner in ethnic ministry from a position of “above.” We can fight for people and influence them from above, but we can’t really partner with others in a redemptive and honoring way without fostering mutuality and dignity.”

Most people we know would want to be in the fifth posture we cover in the article: advocacy in partnership.  They have good intentions and desires in a lot of ways. But sometimes we don’t understand when our good intentions are mostly “good” when viewed through our own cultural lens.  We (the authors) have had our own journeys of learning what types of efforts and interactions are truly good when stepping into the ethnic minority world.  That’s some of the journey – being willing to move from what seems good to us towards what truly is good for those people we are trying to serve and love well.  Postures 2-4 represent frequent postures that we white, dominant culture ministers often think are serving and helpful, but when examined in light of the big picture they begin to show us something about what God still wants to do in our hearts.

When given status or power, we’re called to steward that power to serve and empower others.  White ministers can play a very redemptive role in shaping the future of North America by embracing what it means to advocate in partnership.

Read the full article here: Five Majority Culture Postures Towards Ethnic Minority Ministry (mobile friendly)
**server issues are affecting the above link so if it’s not working you can view and download at this link.

Consider these questions as you respond and comment.  Share your story! We all need to be learners together.

If you are a white staff person or minister, where are you at in your own journey of learning to cross-cultures? What have you learned?  What have been your own challenges and successes?

If you are a non-white staff, student, or minister and you resonate with the ethnic minority experience, we’d love to invite you to share what you have experienced as being truly GOOD for you in your journey.  What has served you or what has helped empower you as a person and a leader?   And what have been the challenges – whether they are captured in the article or not?

All of us can benefit from reflecting upon this question: Given the capacity I currently have, as I reflect on the idea of advocacy, what might be a good step for me right where I am towards learning to enter into healthy partnerships across majority-minority or ethnic lines?

 

 

The Blogference Day 2 Posts!

Welcome to The Blogference Day 2!

Here is the list of today’s posts:

Are We Really Doing Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry?–By Daniel Curran, in Evangelism

Is it worth the trade?–By Karin Tome, in Leadership

12 Ways to Strengthen & Grow a Mobile Ministry Team–By Dana Byers, in Social Media

Sunday is Dying and That’s Fine With Me–By Vince Marrotte, in Leadership, Social Media

Click on the title of each post to read it. To leave a comment, you will need to be logged into Facebook. When you post the comment you can choose whether or not to share your comment on your Facebook profile.

Are We Really Doing Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry?

One of the most important Kingdom movements the Holy Spirit is birthing forth today is the missional church movement I’m enthusiastic about it because it holds so much promise for introducing sweeping revival, evangelical renewal, and ecclesiastical reformation in the Body of Christ worldwide.  The missional church movement I think can also serve as a sorely needed catalyst amongst the proliferating number of evangelical campus missions ie. ministries like CRU , InterVarsity, YoungLife, RUF, Chi Alpha, BCM, etc. and with the myriads of new church planting efforts that are popping up all over in university towns.  My theory is that God in our day is sovereignly (re)stirring a missional church movement in response to a wide variety of massive culture-shifts the American and Western world have been seeing.  The Holy Spirit has strategically been raising up missional leadership for all aspects of the Universal Church for over 60+ years through campus missions.  For a variety of reasons myself and many others think we are at a pivotal moment in church history that needs much reflection and prayer.

Truth be told, the missional church movement isn’t really new.  It’s merely a fresh expression of the Gospel of Jesus in our time that the Holy Spirit is doing to lead Christ’s Church into new territory.  But, are we as campus ministry leaders aware of our God’s mssiological impulses and radical ways?  On many fronts there are reports of campus ministries bogging down like mainline evangelical churches have been, too much pastoral control, bored attenders, loss of vision and fruitfulness.  Are we in a good position to get in step with the missional directions the Spirit of God is moving us in?  A big question I’m asking myself and campus ministry leaders everywhere ie. CRU/IV/YL staff, campus missionary, undergrad, grad, professor, chaplain, campus pastor, etc. is this: “Are We Really Doing Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry?”

Whatever the case, I hope to stir campus ministry leaders everywhere by inviting them to answer this question, talk about the implications of what you discover, and be willing to make changes accordingly.  Click the above hyperlinks to learn more about what’s being said nowdays about being “missional”, and skim my below terminology that I’m choosing to use for our question:

  • Are we “DOING“? — As campus ministry leaders, are we personally doing and modeling for others “Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry”?  Are we worshipping, praying, listening, going, preaching, baptizing, teaching, and equipping others in Jesus’ commandments in the power of the Holy Spirit as our core work? (see Matthew 28:16-20).  Or, are we finding ourselves engaged, distracted, overwhelmed, seduced by other involvements?

 

  • Is what we are doing “GREAT?” — As campus ministry leaders, does what you are doing smack of The Kingdom of God (ie. the grand historic movement of God that calls for repentance and brings redemption to the world in Jesus Christ)?  Or, are we more about our personal, organizational, or evangelical tribal agendas?

 

  • Is what we are doing “CO-MISSIONAL?” — As campus ministry leaders are we truly “being and making disciples” OF Jesus WITH Jesus?  Or, are we making disciples out of legalistic obedience, or impure motives for ourselves, or for (shudder) for the perpetuation of our campus church or campus mission organizations?

 

  • “Is what we are doing “CAMPUS”?” — As campus ministry leaders are we physically and virtually present in the nexus of the land, buildings, institutional programs, and subcultures that comprise the core culture of the high school and university students you’ve been called to “disciple”?  Note: It is a huge missiological problem if you are primarily making students “come” to you; and, if you are not primarily “going” to where students are. If you are not going to students, …you are not doing “campus” ministry”!  ie. are we finding ourselves primarily absent from the various cultural contexts where our students live, eat, sleep, study, play, walk, and worship (physical & virtual)?

 

  • “Is what we are doing “MINISTRY?” = As campus ministry leaders are we really doing the good works of God and reaching out to the specific student groups that the Holy Spirit has tasked us with (Hebrews 10:25)?  Or, are we neglecting our “good works” as campus ministers due to physical distance, cultural fears, busyness, or organizational sacred-cows?

 

As for myself, I’m at a personal crossroads.  I’ve served for over 25 good years in Ohio, Idaho, Seattle, and Berkeley as a campus minister and have made every mistake in the book imaginable.  And, also seen spiritual fruit beyond my wildest dreams.  At the moment God has called me to make disciples amongst two of the busiest (most unavailable) student groups at UC Berkeley: athletes and grad students.  I’m two years into this endeavor and it’s by far the hardest mission assignment I’ve ever had.  I’m scared because it looks like it might cost me more blood, sweat, and tears than I ever imagined to see Christ formed amongst these student groups.  I’m tempted to waiver because it’s not as easy nor as “fun” as traditional undergrad ministry or church-planting.  I’m in a tough spot this fall and need courage to keep pressing in on going and preaching the Gospel into places on campus I’ve never have before.  As for me, I’ve shrunk back from preaching the Gospel these past two years and I feel sick about it and want to confess that to you.

Whatever the case, looking forward to hearing whatever you are thinking about anything I’ve said here and/or to hear where you are at.  I looking forward to meeting you and learning from you through your comments below.  Feel free to steal my “missional question”.  Use it with your staff teams, student leaders, and church planting elders.  If it helps your ministry grow, give God the glory; if it causes a lot of messiness, you can blame me.

Bottom Line:  If we are not involved in doing campus ministry that is Kingdom-inspired, Biblical, and goes to where today’s students are, …we are probably not involved in campus ministry that is obedient to the Great Commission, nor worthy of our Lord.  So, “Are We Really Doing Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry?”  This is our question.  What do you think?  

——
Daniel Curran serves on staff with Cru as a Campus Minister @ UC Berkeley, Leadership Developer, LeadCatalyst of GradCru Networks. Follow him on Twitter. Check out his blog.

Is it worth the trade?

Esau swore an oath to Jacob, selling his birthright to him. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. He ate and drank and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25:33-34

beef stew“Who would trade their birthright for a bowl of stew?
You would.
I would.
If it was the right bowl of stew.”

A bowl of stew for a birthright? Are you kidding? Who would do that?
Who would trade their future for something as temporary as a bowl of stew?
Who would throw away their ministry? Their marriage? The respect of their children? Their reputation? Their influence?

It happens all the time. Do you know who would trade their future for a bowl of stew? You would. I would. If it was the right bowl of stew.

These words from Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church, have haunted me ever since I heard this message at the Catalyst ’10 Leadership conference:

“As leaders, we have a heightened appetite for more. More progress. More responsibility. More growth. More respect. More achievement. The internal tension we all face is that these appetites are never fully and finally satisfied. We celebrate the growth of our student ministry, but next semester we want more students. As soon as one project is going well, we want to take on more responsibility. We get into trouble when we think there is something or somebody or a broad enough responsibility that is going to fully and finally satisfy. And we spend our lives, and in some cases make really poor leadership decisions, trying to find that golden ring.”

These appetites aren’t bad–in fact, they made us leaders in the first place. But to lead with all diligence–to be a leader worth following–you must carefully look at the future you are trading for the decisions you make today.

If we don’t get this right, it doesn’t really matter if we get everything else right. If we are ruled and controlled and deceived by the little voice that says a little more, a little more, a little more-if we live and lead that way, we ultimately lose the thing we once considered most valuable.

Leadership is inherently future focused. You lead. If Esau had paused for a minute to consider his birthright, to consider what would have been his future, there is no way he would have traded it for a measly bowl of stew. We would have referred to Jehovah as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau. We would have seen Esau’s name in the genealogy in Matthew. Instead, Jacob received the birthright. Jacob received the blessing. And Esau despised what God had given.

What’s your bowl of stew?

_________________________________________________________________

Karin serves on staff with Cru on the Global Technology Team. Follow her on Twitter. Read her blog. 

These are a summary of notes taken from the opening session of Catalyst ’10 in a message given by Andy Stanley. He has written numerous books on Leadership and I have been heavily influenced by his thinking. 

Sunday is Dying and That’s Fine With Me

One hundred years ago the local church was the centerpiece of many communities which meant that the gathering on Sunday morning was one of the most revered hours (or 3 for Pentecostals) of the week. It inherently had a very high value in people’s lives. Fast forward to today and we can see that the Sunday morning “Time & Place Gathering” is quickly losing value in people’s lives.

abandoned churchThe industrialization of the world has been reflected in the church with a highly scaleable and repeatable experience that is today’s church service: Some songs, maybe a video clip, someone talks and we drop a few bucks in the plate. Rinse. Repeat.

People have hired a hit and run experience to augment life with a low grade spiritual experience that is convenient first and foremost. Our idea of what is convenient has significantly changed has it not? All of a sudden driving the mile and a half to church to sit through boring songs and 40 minutes of a talking head is less than convenient…it’s downright hard.

The Church started out as a tight knit community that was all up in each other’s lives on a daily basis and relationships, based around Christ, were the centerpiece of the community not a pulpit.

We’ve lost the plot and we are only now just seeing it. When the church was the main, if not only, place to get spiritual content then it garnered enough energy that relationships and spiritual growth could happen. We have always said that this is the main thing but in reality our actions have been saying that the Sunday morning gathering is the main thing, community and spiritual growth were just a side effect. Now that the “Time and Place Gathering” is losing it’s value, the side effects it was creating are falling off considerably.

All this has me excited!

The tools of the web, new media and social media have given us the opportunity to transition from churches that control content and deliver it on narrow channels (Sunday morning); to vibrant community where everyone has a voice and relationships and spiritual growth can become the centerpiece once again.

The first step in this journey is to embrace this reality and stop wasting resources on trying to save the “Time and Place Gathering”, it’s not going away any time soon, it simply has less value.

The next step is rethink the priorities of your church and consider how you create content and experiences. Every team I consult with is stuck in a rut that puts too high of a value on Sunday morning and too high of a value on the current components of Sunday morning: Talking head teaching, musical corporate worship etc. Think of the last time your team created a gathering that wasn’t on Sunday morning; how quickly did musical worship get wedged into the equation? We have a hard time fathoming getting together as a Christian community without singing songs and listening to a talking head.

Lastly, engage your people with the tools that are at your finger tips. The tools of social media have very little ROI when the point of measure is attendance and giving, but what’s the ROI on a real relationship?  If you approach new media with the intent of getting more people to your “Time and Place Gathering” then you will quickly begin to see it’s not strategic. However, if you learn to meet the needs that used to be met by that gathering, using new media as part of that plan, you will quickly see life change and vibrant community develop.

We are in the very early years of this new reality, but the time is now to get in the game.

——–

Vince Marrotte is a Christ Follower, Husband and Father. He serves as the Internet Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin Texas. He recently released an ebook, Context and Voice, that is available for download here. Click here to follow him on Twitter. Or here to read his blog.

The Blogference Day 1 Posts!

Welcome to The Blogference Day 1!

Here is the list of today’s posts:

Moms: The Unsung Heroes–By Stephanie Raquel, in Leadership

Would You Mind Me Telling You What I do With My Computer?–By Miheret Tilahun, in Social Media

What Form Will Your Leadership Take?–By Gary Run, in Leadership

The Future is Spanglish–By Destino Eric, in Evangelism

Click on the title of each post to read it. To leave a comment, you will need to be logged into Facebook. When you post the comment you can choose whether or not to share your comment on your Facebook profile.

Moms: The Unsung Heroes

“One if by land.  Two if by sea…”

Words made famous by Paul Revere’s Midnight ride.  On the eve of the American Revolution in 1775, two lanterns hung in Boston’s Christ Church.  After getting word from Revere, the twin lights alerted the colonial militia what the occupying British soldiers were planning.   Recently on a family vacation to New England, I encountered some unsung heroes of Revere’s ride – two anonymous friends who played a critical role in changing the world.

Truth is, I knew Revere wasn’t the only rider that April evening.   There were others.

But … I knew nothing of his row boat friends.  The “unsung heroes” whose actions spurred greatness.  Sitting in Minuteman National Park, I couldn’t help but think  how often we as moms feel like unsung heroes, as well. 

Before his horse’s first gallop, Paul Revere had two friends who quietly, stealthfully, rowed him across the Charles River.  At night.   Around a ginormous English war ship, with only the moon to guide them.   After reaching the other side, Revere hopped on a borrowed horse and rode through the countryside alerting Minutemen that the Redcoats were coming!  The “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” was fired the next day.

What fascinates me is just how vital these “row boat friends” were.  For all his talents as a silversmith, nobody speaks of Revere’s sailing skills!  Whether they knew it or not, those friends were critical to the mission.  And yet how often do we as moms think the “little things” we do go unnoticed by the rest of the world?

As a full-time mom of three kids born in less than five years, I know that feeling well. But like the row boat friends … how do we know if we might just be contributing to a world-changing event??  Granted, most days my personal row boat takes the form of a mini-van and I’m chauffeuring “greatness” to soccer practice or AWANA.

And yet the last I checked, the Great Commission  (with its 1st person, imperative command) doesn’t have an exception clause.  It doesn’t say, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations … except if you’re a mom.”  Or, “… except if you’ve got three loads of laundry to do, groceries to buy, a turtle to find and four places to be in the next half-hour.”

The reality is, God’s word gives us a clear directive as believers, including mothers – young and old.  Parenting By THE BOOK author John Rosemund explains that effective parenting is truly effective leadership.  Women’s ministry author Sharon Jaynes notes that “What a person does with her family is what she will do with her church.  Family is a testing ground for effective leadership.”

Of course in different seasons of life, who and where we lead may change.  But Who we follow does not.  If you’ve got a three-week-old nursing newborn, God won’t ask you to spearhead any ministry other than your child.  Nonetheless, we are each commanded to disciple those around us.  We are influencing, and therefore leading, the next generation!  We lead by example in our families – as well as other spheres of influence like neighborhoods, schools and churches.

So how do we keep leading after becoming moms?  Here are a few ideas – I would love to hear yours!

  • Keep in touch.  (Proverbs 27:10 & Eccl. 4:12)  Jesus had his faves, and so should we.  Stay in regular contact with a select few women who can encourage you, pray with you, and call you on your junk.   For some of us, dear friends live very near.  But for many of us, our most trusted confidantes aren’t just down the street.  Thank God for Skype, iChat, Facetime and unlimited long-distance calling plans!  If these kinds of friendships are lacking in your life, earnestly seek the Lord to provide them and ask your husband to pray as well.

  • Stay connected to the vine.   (John 15:6-7)   Spend regular time in God’s word, and plug into your local church.  For decades, couples went back to church after they began a family.  For Millennial moms, that is less and less the case.  True, it’s never easy to get children out-the-door … but we’ve got to maintain a counter-cultural mindset (Romans 12:2) and remember isolation is a tool of the enemy.   If we are to pour into the lives of our husbands, children, neighbors, colleagues and extended families, we simply cannot pour from an empty vessel.  As a bible-believing, evangelism trained discipler, you are more than equipped to serve as an integral part of your local body.  My friend Karen True of womensministry.net notes that the majority of pastor’s wives don’t have a close friend.  Knowing this, how can you reach out to key leaders and staff wives in your church?

 

  •  Read, Read, Read!  John Maxwell frequently says “Leaders are readers” and that what helps us grow is our life experience and the books we read.  I am nicknamed the “book lady” at church because I am constantly recommending great books.  My routine is just a few minutes at the end of the day.  Yet do you realize 10 minutes a day equals 60 hours a year?  That’s a book a month!

 

  • Keep an eternal perspective.   (James 1:2-4)  When I was on a Cru Summer Project in Hampton Beach, N.H. many years ago, staff member Greg Ganssle really challenged us to live above mediocrity as believers.   He taught us to think of ages 0 to 40 as Preparation for our life’s work.  40 to 60 as Contribution.  And ages 60+ as Coaching – the contributors.   During rough seasons of life, especially if you’re under 40, remember you are still in training for your life’s work!

 

What about you?  What barriers keep you from staying active in ministry, while maintaining balance in your family, and how have you overcome them?  How do you find ways to lead as a mom?

 

~ ~ ~

Stephanie Raquel is passionate about leading women who lead women.  She has been connected to Cru for more than two decades, since her days at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She and her husband, Steve, have three spunky daughters and have served with Cru’s Metro Chicago development team as well as their local FamilyLife Leadership Team.  Stephanie currently serves as the director of women’s ministry at The Compass Church in Naperville, Ill.  You can find her at www.stephanieraquel.com or Tweeting @Stephraquel.

What Form Will Your Leadership Take?

Rivalry and Conceit.

I have been thinking lately about the things that trip leaders up-those attitudes or approaches that cause leaders to stumble or to lead poorly. There are a couple of attributes in Scripture that have caught my attention. They are found in Philippians 2:3. These two attributes are rivalry and conceit. They are juxtaposed with humility. Philippians 2:3 states, “Do nothing from rivalry and conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Make no mistake-this is not a leadership verse. Paul is not writing exclusively to leaders in this part of his letter. Yet, Paul does clearly address this letter to “all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.”

Paul not only includes those who are spiritual leaders within this body of believers, but even singles them out as special addressees. I think the reason he does so is that he knows that whatever can possibly entangle a congregant can more readily entangle a leader. Leaders have influence, and therefore have leverage. That leverage can either be for good or for bad. A leader’s blessings are always multiplied-and so are their sins. And leaders are always susceptible to the clamoring of the crowd.

Think about rivalry and conceit for a moment. Rivalry is about winning. Think of the best college football rivalries and you readily think about bragging rights for the year. When you have the attitude of rivalry you are bent on winning-often at any cost. The unstated attitude is, “I am going to beat you!” This is often born out of a feeling of resentment based on jealousy. In some translations this term is labeled “selfish ambition.” Conceit is subtly different. Rivalry says, “I will show you that I am better than you.” Conceit is the notion that you already are better than someone else. It has the connotation of cheap pride-largely because it is all in your mind.

I think where this shows up in leadership is when we compare ourselves to other leaders or other organizations. Comparison is always a dangerous activity. It can end up sounding like this: “I/we are better than you and I/we are going to show you that we are better than you.” As you can surmise, rivalry and conceit are cousins of the sin of pride. It is so easy to slip into these sins as leaders. We want to be fruitful and we want to be effective-one of the easiest ways to feel good about ourselves is by feeling better than they guy next door. It is in our flesh to feel superior as a leader. But this can come at a high cost. God tells us in 1 Peter that He opposes the proud. No spiritual leader ultimately wants to be in opposition to Almighty God.

What does Paul offer up as a solution to this leadership disease?

In the second half of the verse Paul tells us “in humility count others as more significant than ourselves.” “In humility” is a loaded phrase. Humility does not mean thinking less of ourselves. It actually is not thinking of ourselves at all. Paul gives us a beautiful application of the definition. We are to choose to count others as “more significant.” That automatically rules out rivalry and conceit. To indulge in rivalry and conceit is to think of ourselves as more significant than other leaders or other organizations. Those twin attributes are antithetical to humility. To desire superiority is to not live “in humility.” But Paul goes on to offer up a better and greater “form” of humility. In the ESV we find this word “form” three times in the passage-in v. 6, 7 and 8. The word “form” originally meant the very nature or character of something and the idea was both an internal and external transformation.

Notice what Paul says as he refers to Jesus as our example. In v.6-8 Paul states,

“(Jesus) who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Don’t miss the progression. Jesus already existed in the form of God, but took on the form of a servant, and in doing so took on human form-which took him all the way to the cross. Jesus, who is God, truly became a servant, a human being, and a sacrifice. That is the idea of “form”-to morph or change from one shape or posture to another. It is not playing to the crowd. It is staying fundamentally true to the character of Christ while being willing to count others as more significant. There is a similar progression outlined for us in Matthew 20:20-28. Jesus was addressing the twelve in regards to James’ and John’s request for the right and left hands of power in the coming kingdom. Jesus lays out a form or path of leadership-that of a servant, slave and ransom. For Jesus this is a descent into greatness. Philippians 2:9 tells us that the consequence of this “forming” for Jesus was ultimately exaltation. And Paul tells us that we are to have the same mind of humility formation in ourselves.

I would suggest that this applies even more readily to spiritual leadership. The world sees a leadership form that resembles an upward ladder leading towards visible status and outward personal success.

God sees a leadership form that includes successive cellar steps towards character and servanthood that bring glory and honor to Him and empowers others.

Will your leadership reflect rivalry and conceit? Or will it create various and creative ways for others to succeed? What form you take makes all the difference.

I’d love to hear your thoughts related to the following questions:

Where are rivalry and conceit showing up in your life and ministry? How does it manifest itself?

What “form” is your leadership taking?

As a leader, how can the gospel and the exalted Jesus aid you in your journey towards counting others as more significant than yourself?

Gary Runn has served on staff with Cru for over thirty years, and holds a Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Click here to follow Gary on Twitter. Click here to read his blog.