Tag Archives: leadership

Cross-Cultural Servanthood

Duane Elmer’s book Cross-Cultural Servanthood may be the best Christian book I’ve read on the concept of working in other cultures.

He combines practical and theoretical to create an easy reading book on the why and how of working in cultures different from my own.  Perhaps what I like best is that he isn’t afraid to step on some toes.  The back cover has this bold quote, “Missionaries could more effectively minister if they did not think they were so superior to us.”  Then I opened the cover and started reading a number of true but painful words that led me to several conclusions, a few of which I list below:

  • I can be a person who serves or I can be a servant.  One is something I do, and the other is who I am.
  • Withholding acceptance from a person is rejecting a creation of God.  It is a sin against Jesus.    (1 Corinthians 8:12)
  • Trust can take a long time to establish but very little time to break.
  • I will not have meaningful relationships or effective communication in another culture until I can assemble their seemingly illogical, random actions, and reasoning into the framework of their root beliefs – their world view.

He helped me realize that it may not be prudent to jump right into a new culture and start serving.  He believes several factors need to be considered before I step through culture boundaries to serve: openness, acceptance, trust, learning, understanding.

He opened my eyes to one of the most logical, godly forms of leadership, a style he called “Traditional Tribal Chief”.  (I’ll let you read about that in chapter 11.)  And I admired his critique on Christianity’s infatuation with the topic of leadership.  Here are five thoughts on leadership that I gleaned from the reading:

  1. The Bible talks much more about serving than leading.
  2. I can expect good and bad leaders.
  3. Knowing Scripture doesn’t make me a good leader.
  4. God alone gifts and appoints leaders.  People who are trained as leaders, but not gifted and appointed, cause problems for everyone.
  5. Sometimes I may lead uniquely, but I need to lead Biblically at all times.

I’ve gone on too long.  Suffice it to say that I liked the book.  The time spent reading it was a good investment.

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” in the left side-bar of this blog.  Look for “Cross-Cultural Servanthood” as you scroll through the box.


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Wise Stewards

weekly theme #47 Wise Stewards* 

week containing the Sunday between September 18-24

The mere title for this week convicts me.  God has gifted me with time, and I squander it on activities with few long-term benefits.  Time is not the only gift I squander.  My energy is misplaced or wasted, my mind is distracted or idle, my soul’s flame is erratic, and my emotions flare and fester rather than spur positive action.  Why can’t I be a wise steward in all of life?  Heneri J.M. Nouwen describes it as standing on one side of a huge canyon with the godly life on the other side.  I study, write, and talk about the beauty on the other side of the canyon, but I don’t seem to be able to establish myself there.  Lord, plant me on the other side!

Being a wise steward doesn’t mean I’m the boss.  Saint John of the Cross said that the Holy Spirit produces actions that are peaceful, gentle, and strong.  Being anxious, intolerant, pessimistic, wavering or domineering are all signs of my self-directing soul.  They are all responses to taking responsibilities not intended for me.  When I allow God to direct, he is responsible.  I am responsible to obey, and he is responsible for fruit.  When I usurp his authority to direct, it leads to internal feelings and external actions that are beneath the noble qualities found in family members of the King.  It is tempting to try to play the King, but it is also foolish and fatal.

What does the “wise” look like in stewardship?  James 3:17 uses several adjectives to describe godly wisdom: pure, peace-loving, gentle, merciful, yielding good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Two of those adjectives strike me with the meanings nestled in the Greek.

  • gentle (epieikeia) – knowing when strict justice becomes unjust; able to rightly give mercy; carrying out the spirit of the law rather than the letter
  • good (agathos) – inward good that produces benefit and genuinely good effects/results; appealing to our sense of morals more than to what is seen

It seems new for me to think of being a wise steward of both good and bad, but it makes sense.  Stewardship involves how I treat what comes to me, and bad comes along with good.  The steward of a garden must deal with both the crop and the weed.  A thought, whether good or bad, takes root and bears fruit unless the steward treats each differently.  How I treat the unpleasant in life may be as important as how I treat the blessings.  Both can shape my attitude, beliefs, and actions.  My actions, including my words, are the fruit of the inner me.  (Wisdom is proved right by her actions.  Matthew 11:19)

I have been a steward of people, but I have not always been a wise steward.  I lapsed into using people to complete projects rather than using projects to complete people.  Loving people, being a wise steward of those in my charge, is second in greatness only to loving God.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.


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Descending Into Greatness

Descending Into Greatness by Bill Hybels

I read this book in an effort to find humility, but I really found humility through a life “mishap”.  This book allowed me to build on it. 

By yielding my power to self-rule, I open myself to my God-designed destiny.  I discovered that the result of surrendering control is a lightened burden.  I was no longer responsible for results.   Descending is not so much who I am or what I have but what I do with both.  Who’s agenda shall I advance – God’s or mine?  The author provided wise counsel regarding the path to greatness.  It isn’t where I had been looking.  Following Christ is not a onetime decision.  It’s hundreds of decisions every day. 

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” located in the left side-bar of this blog.

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Lincoln On Leadership

Donald T. Phillips has put together one of the most practical leadership books I have read.  He has managed to combine Lincoln’s words and actions to create a blueprint of a leadership style born during one of America’s most troubled times yet applicable for today.  It seems we are dealing with many of the same problems.  “All the “how to” of leadership is ineffective without integrity, honesty, and the resulting trust.  Morals must precede method.” 

I did not realize Abraham Lincoln possessed a temper that needed to vent.  I learned that this venting was often done by writing scalding letters that remained in his desk – never sent.  “Every human has flaws.  Leading always brings these flaws to the surface.  Leaders must learn to restrain those flaws from devastating their followers.”

It is a worthwhile book for all leaders, whether they lead their homes or their countries.

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” located in the left side-bar of this blog.

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Spiritual Leadership

by L. Oswald Sanders

Chuck Colson says this is the best book on Christian Leadership he has read.  John Maxwell says no other book has influenced his life like this one.  It is filled with examples, formulas, and methods for leading spiritually while also leading people organizationally.  A couple of my favorite lines are: “The person eager to lead should be disqualified as a leader.” and “The greatest test of a leader is what happens when the leader is wrong.”  I had to agree when he said that the number one peril of leadership is…

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” located in the left side-bar of this blog.

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