Jesus-Style Leadership

How would Jesus lead?

I find it amazing that we ask so many (in my opinion) nonsensical questions about the life of Jesus but when it comes to leadership we drop the Bible and pick up the latest book from the New York Times best seller list. Somewhere down the road we decided that Kingdom leadership could be taught to us by the world. We thought that if it worked in this sinful age it must be the way of the Kingdom. Yet as I read my Bible, I cannot reconcile how we lead as Christians, whether in work, church or home, with the way that the Bible teaches.

It’s also interesting that most of the Christian books that do talk about Biblical leadership do not model their leadership model on Jesus. I’ve heard how Moses would lead, Joshua, Paul, Peter, Noah, Elijah, the Roman Centurion…but rarely ever about how Jesus would lead! As much as I love these heroes of the faith and believe we can learn from their lives, we are not called to be like Moses. We are called to be like Jesus and live and respond like He would. Let’s look at a few points of what this means.

Meekness

In the corporate business world, there is a lot of talk about pushing ahead and making yourself stand out. Many leadership books give ways and formulas how to climb the corporate ladder. Jesus on the other hand states this in His “leadership book” (the Sermon on the Mount):

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5 ESV)

Jesus states that the best way to be exalted and climb the ladder of success and recognition is to be meek. Think about that. In the Kingdom, the best way to climb up the ladder is to climb down it.

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate. (Luke 1:51-52 ESV)

The Bible clearly marks what the requirements are for advancement. Finally, look at this verse:

But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:34-35 ESV)

How is it that we can have Christian leadership classes and never hear that verse? In the Kingdom, the higher you are in the Kingdom the more humility, meekness and servanthood is required. Also, the greater you are in the Kingdom, the less you are allowed to defend yourself. Jesus didn’t just teach these things, He lived them. He humbled Himself to serve us. He denied any right to defend Himself. He died and then the Father exalted Him. Maybe that’s why meekness is never taught as a leadership principal — cause meekness is tied to dying.

Prayer

The Bible is full of verses talking about how much Jesus prayed. Sometimes when reading the Bible, I wonder when Jesus slept! He was always praying, for Himself, for others and for His followers. I truly wish the gospels had more prayers that Jesus prayed. John 17 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. That said, it is amazing how little Christian leadership books/seminars push their hearers to pray.

In today’s culture, there is a push to create places of creativity but there is no push it seems to create places of prayer. We think if we have the right atmosphere or can generate the right collaborative spirit that there is nothing we can’t solve. Jesus said:

 “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19 ESV)

Jesus states that He only did what the Father did. He not only said that, He acted liked that. He rooted Himself in prayer to make sure He was continually connected with the Father. If Jesus did this being God, how much more should we?

Delegation of the *good/fun stuff*

This point is neat. In His ministry, Jesus toils, labors and serves His followers. He prayed and discipled them. Yet when it came to public ministry, He never hogged the “platform” (so to speak). Multiple times He sent out His disciples to do the preaching, healing and miracles. That’s not to say Jesus never did anything. Jesus preached and ministered all the time, but He involved His disciples in those things too. It’s another side of meekness. He didn’t tell His disciples to go clean the road or something mundane while He did all the exciting and impactful stuff. No, He worked with them side by side. I think part of the reason was that Jesus understood that He was only here for a few years. He knew His ministry had to be imparted into others.

Always open for questions

Many times the disciples seemed really dense. Jesus would be preaching and later they would come to Him and ask Him questions or ask for a clearer explanation. Jesus never brushed them off stating there was no time. Neither did He make them feel stupid for asking questions. In fact, some of Jesus’ most memorable statements were in response to a question someone asked Him. Think about this: the Lord’s prayer was given in response to the disciples asking “teach us how to pray.” Now that prayer is prayed by millions of Christians everyday…all because of a question.

Truthful transparency

Jesus not only told the truth, He also was transparent. Nowadays people will say that you can’t let those under you know you’re weak or sad or in trouble. They also advise not telling people of your future plans in case you shoot yourself in the foot. This is not what Jesus lived. Jesus from the onset told of His death, resurrection, ascension, glorification, second coming and final victory. At the same time He also spoke of how troubled He was, especially closer to His betrayal. Jesus had no problem showing how He really felt. Jesus laughed, cried, yelled, whispered, etc. He never said “none of your business” or “this is personal”. For our sake, He was totally open. Jesus never left us uninformed about His life or what He was like and what He felt.

Friendship

In John 15, Jesus makes a humbling statement to any one that reads it:

You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:14-15 ESV)

Wow! People say that you can’t be friends with the people who are under you because they’ll lose respect for you, but Jesus’ example states if you can’t make the people under you friends then you’re not leading like Him. Jesus never worried about His disciples becoming too familiar with Him. He understood that the closer He was to them, the more they would love Him. This model is seen again and again in the Bible, especially with Paul and Timothy.

I think sometimes we can take ourselves too seriously, like the ministry or calling of God is on us to fulfill. We act that if we do not live a life of a monk then that somehow dilutes the ministry of God. While personal sin and compromise will dilute and shame the calling God has for you, friendships with people of like faith will not. In truth, the effectiveness of the ministry is not on us, it’s on the Lord. Jesus understood this. That’s why he prayed hours upon hours and then went eating at people’s house, even associating with people who were of shameful reputation. His friendship didn’t bring His ministry down, His friendship brought their dignity and joy up.

In summary, I feel it’s time to start inviting God into our leadership practices. He is the best leader and anything He teaches us will not only work now, but in the age to come. If we’re faithful to lead properly now, He can trust us to lead properly then. That’s what I’m leading for.

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My 15 Favorite Christmas Movies

It’s Christmas time and I decided to post my favorite Christmas movies.

15. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Not a giant fan of the classics, but there are a few I enjoy. This is one of them.

14. It’s A Wonderful Life
My pastor would call me out if I didn’t put this one on my list. It’s good. I enjoy it, but I won’t watch it over and over again.

13. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (Both Versions)
I can’t decide which version I like more. I like Jim Carrey’s performance but I love the music of the classic one. I usually just watch whichever one comes on TV first.

12. White Christmas
It’s my wife’s favorite Christmas movie and I have to admit, it’s good, especially if you like musicals and the classics.

11. Polar Express
I love watching this movie, but I only remember the first 30 minutes of the movie and the last 10 minutes of the ending. Regardless, the reason I love this music is because of the soundtrack. It has the best theme of all the Christmas movies I like.

10. Santa Clause
Loved the first one. It was filmed back when Tim Allen was funny.

9. Ernest Saves Christmas
It’s Ernest. That’s enough. But there are also reindeer THAT STAND ON THE CEILING UPSIDE DOWN!!!!! Epic.

8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
I’m a huge fan of movies that are highly quotable. Quotes like “Honey, have you seen the cat?” made this one of my favorite movies period.

7. Miracle On 34th Street (90’s Version)
Probably the last classic Christmas movie ever made. Richard Attenborough was the perfect Santa Claus too. He’s exactly what I’ve always thought Santa Claus should look and be like.

6. Jingle All The Way
As I said, I love quotable movies. Therefore I love anything with Arnold Schwarzenegger in it. Also was the first time someone explained to me “supply and demand.”

5. Home Alone 2
It was hard to pick which Home Alone movie I liked more. They’re both good and they both recall great Christmas emotions.

4. Home Alone
Favorite part of all time = “Angels with Filthy Souls” and the pizza man.

3. Muppet Christmas Carol
It’s Christmas AND it has muppets! Seriously, I think this was the best adaption of the novel I’ve seen. I know Jim Carrey has a new version out but I really don’t like motion capture CGI. This movie proved it could be funny, serious, scary and pointed…WITH PUPPETS!!!!

2. Elf
It doesn’t get much funnier than this movie. All the characters are great. The story and dialouge is great, and it’s also family-friendly. How many Will Ferrell movies do you know that are family-friendly? Exactly.

1. A Christmas Story
The all-time best Christmas movie. Quotable and funny but memorable and brings back parts of my childhood everytime I watch it. I could watch this movie (and Elf) over and over again and not get tired of it.

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

Help To Better Pray

I decided to post some quick points and resources to help people pray, particularly for my church during this 28 day prayer initiative we’re in.

Pray 15-30 second prayers.

The point of prayer is not to give God a laundry list of things to do. It is two-way communication. It is intimacy. It is relationship. The point of praying is connecting and talking to God for the entire day, not just a hour in the morning. Try praying a quick 15 second prayer every time you think about it. Put notes around you so that you are reminded to pray these short prayers. Here is an example of a 15 second prayer:

Jesus, I pray for my church. I ask that you would pour out Your Spirit upon us. I pray that right now You would reveal Yourself to every member and every leader. Speak to their hearts and encourage them with Your love.

Praying quick prayers like that out loud or under your breath will keep your heart engaged with God throughout the day — and that is the point of prayer. It will train you to pray more and longer. It will also keep you connected to the Spirit to hear what He speaks to you. 15-30 second prayers will change your life completely if you do it consistenly.

Pray the Bible.

James says that we don’t have answers to our prayers cause we pray amiss, asking for our own selfish desires instead of what’s on the heart of God. When we pray the Word, we are assured we are praying the perfect will of God. Take a portion of Scripture and apply it to what you’re praying for. Here is an example prayer for the lost in the city using John 3:16 and 2 Thessalonians 3:1:

Father, You love all the world. You love the lost. You desire none to perish but all to believe in Jesus Your Son. I pray that Your Word would run swiftly in the city, that as Jesus is preached, You would convict hearts and bring them to salvation. Make people’s hearts tender to receive You I pray in Jesus name.

Here is what I advise doing when starting to pray:

Pray in the Spirit.

This is something that I find myself neglecting in prayer. I have a tendency to think of tongues as something used just for corporate prophecy, but it is primarily a tool for prayer. There is nothing that will engage and focus your heart to seek God and pray like praying in tongues. If you are not filled with the Spirit, ask the Lord to baptize you with this gift. He loves you and desires for all His children to have it. After you ask for the gift of tongues, open your mouth in faith and start speaking.

There are also times where we run out of words to pray or we don’t know what to pray for a certain focus. The Bible says that during these times, His Spirit prays through us the perfect will of God. He does this through tongues, groanings and utterings.

I hope this has helped equip you to better engage with God in the place of prayer.

Washing Feet In The Place of Prayer

Our church has begun a 28 day prayer initiative. Our pastor has called us to set aside 30 minutes a day and pray for our church, city and community. This will continue into our annual week of prayer and fasting.

A group of us were praying last night for our city and I felt the Holy Spirit speak a verse to me:

 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. – Luke 6:37-38

Many times we can be so focused on our own needs or our own church’s needs that we forget the there is one church — it’s the corporate body of Christ. Other churches in our city (as well as nation and world) are our brothers, sisters and fellow workers and Jesus talked about how we should treat one another:

 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. – John 13:14-15

The Lord calls us to evangelize and disciple the lost, but He calls us to serve one another by washing each other’s feet. This is done multiple ways, but there is one way the trumps them all…

Prayer.

When we pray for one another, or for another church besides our own, we are washing their feet in the place of prayer. We are asking the Lord to refresh them, strengthen them and renew them. We are spiritually brushing off the dust and confusion off of their lives and asking them Lord to encounter them in a fresh way. Jesus cares very much that His church be united in love. He hates division and the segregation of churches. He desires all church’s to be their brother’s keeper.

The Lord gave us a challenge about this last night. He said:

 If you will give yourself to praying for other churches and people during this time, those prayers and answers will return to you hundredfold. Whatever you give in prayer for my corporate body, you will receive back many times greater.

During these 28 days, I plan on reading my Bible, worshiping God and praying for our church and city more than I do on a daily basis, but I am also choosing to also take time to pray for other churches in my city. Why? Cause I know the most effective thing I can do for my life and my church’s life is to serve, pray and pour into others — those people and churches that are on God’s heart. I know that if I look past my needs and pray for others more than for myself, God will send the blessings, help and grace that I need.

I am remembering that every prayer for other life is a prayer for my own, every other pastor is a prayer for mine, every other church is a prayer for mine. It gets measured back to us — in even a greater measure.

My iPhone 4 Home Screen

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I love my iPhone 4. It does everything that I’ve wanted my phone to do for years. It has helped me be more productive, less impatient (since I now have something that helps me pass my time), more organized and less tied down to a desk and computer.

I have a few friends who recently got a iPhone for the first time and their first question is always the same: “What apps do you recommend I get and why?” So I decided to compile a list of my most used apps, the ones I keep on my home screen. Many of them are the default, pre-installed apps that come with the phone but I will try to explain why I still choose them over any other third party app.

Home Screen Apps

Messaging. (Cost: Default)
I text a lot. In fact it’s the primary way to get ahold of me. There are a few apps that I use more than texting though, and that’s why this app is not in my dock.

Voice Memos (Cost: Default)
Being a songwriter, this app has helped me write and save many ideas for new songs. This app has been invaluable. I used to use the Voxie app until Apple made this app a default app. Must say I like Apple’s app way better. All recordings auto-sync into my iTunes library. You can’t beat that.

ESV Study Bible (Cost: $12.99)
By far the best Bible translation and the best app to view it with. It contains the full Study Bible text and comes with many social networking tools. It also is constantly updating and improving. The UI is gorgeous and everything down to the fonts were carefully thought out. They also have a free version of the normal ESV Bible, which was my favorite Bible app. Some people like YouVersion, and I have it on my phone, but I rather have a app that doesn’t require cell signal or wifi at all. YouVersion also doesn’t allow for custom highlighting, multi-verse bookmarking or a notes section to write down my thoughts about a certain portion of scripture. This app has all of that. It also includes a full verse-by-verse audio version included with it. Priceless.

Posterous (Cost: Free)
This is my mobile blogging app. It’s a lot easier to use than the WordPress app even though it lacks many of WordPress’ features and is probably one of the main reasons I started blogging again. I open the app and it’s UI inspires me to write. That’s a sign when you know a blogging app is doing it right. I find myself drafting all of my blogs on my phone and then cleaning them up and formatting them on my computer. If I find myself with five minutes to spare and I have a blogging thought I can start writing immediately and save it until I can finish it.

App Store (Price: Default)
I look for new apps and constantly check for updates more than I check my email. If I had the money to buy any app at anytime, this would be in my dock.

Wikipanion (Cost: Free)
I love information so I love Wikipedia. Wikipanion is the best Wikipedia app I have found to date, and it’s free. They have a $5 premium app that I will probably be buying shortly.
This space is also one of my three rotating app placeholders. This place on my screen has held many different apps. Whenever there’s a new app I start using more frequently, this is the first app placeholder to get used. So that app has to be more important to me than Wikipedia. Good luck.

Instapaper (Cost: $4.99)
Holy crap! What did I do before this app?! Instapaper, along with Reeder, has given me the freedom to stay away from desktop/laptop computers. Whenever I am surfing the web on my phone, or reading a blog or seeing a link to a new site and I stumble across something that I want to read later when I have time, I just click a button and it sends all the text and pictures to Instapaper so I can read it offline. I can’t tell you the times I’ve been waiting for a long time somewhere that has no cell phone signal or wifi and I have opened this app to catch up on some reading. Helps me schedule reading things later so that I’m not distracted by what I need to do right away.

Reeder (Cost: $2.99)
This is my RSS reader and is the best one available in my opinion. It syncs with my Google Reader account and downloads any updated (or starred) blog post I haven’t read yet. This app probably has the best UI experience that I’ve ever seen. I used to use NetNewsWire Premium, but this app’s simplicity and design won me out.

Clock (Cost: Default)
Best alarm clock ever! It’s also a stopwatch and timer. Probably the best app Apple has ever made.

Maps (Cost: Default)
I use maps more for googling phone numbers than for directions, but it has directed me out of being lost in many major cities.

Settings (Cost: Free)
I use this constantly, if only to turn my wifi off when a place’s wifi signal isn’t working but is messing with my phone. That’s not a Apple issue (mostly). It’s usually the place’s crummy network setup. We do what we must.

Camera (Cost: Default)
I love taking pictures and videos. I use this app enough for it to be in a prime place on my home screen.

Calendar (Cost: Default)
Great calendar syncing app for all my Google calendars. I don’t use it much anymore though so I’m looking for it to change soon.

Shopping List (Cost: $2.99)
Beautiful shopping list app. They offer a free version but the ability to make multiple shopping lists (like one for Walmart, Publix, etc) AND the ability to sync them with other devices (like my wife’s iPhone 3G) made this app a must buy. It allows me to categorize things and will even calculate the cost of my grocery list.

Chronicle (Cost: $1.99)
I hate Apple’s Notes app. Due to note taking and my wife wanting something that she can write and journal in (and take sermon notes), this app has been the only choice we’ve had. There are several things I would improve with this app (like adding a highres logo!) but it is well organized and fills our note-taking needs well.

iPod (Cost: Free)
I’m a musician. I like music. Period.

The Dock

These are the four apps that I use the most on my phone. These are found at the bottom in my dock.

Phone (Cost: Default)
Duh.

Mail (Cost: Default)
Unified mailbox for all my email accounts? Yes please! (I rarely use the websites anymore)

Twitter (Cost: Free)
My preferred Twitter client and arguably the best one. Twitter bought the best client there was (Tweetie 2 – which I owned) and made it their official app. Works like a charm. I swear I use this app every 15 minutes.

Facebook (Cost: Free)
The best and only Facebook app as far as I know. Helps me manage my fan pages, notifications, emails and helps me give updates and pictures to my friends.

I hope this has been a good look and a help for new iPhone buyers. What are your favorite apps?

Top 10 Reasons Why I Love DeLand

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I have lived in DeLand, Florida for over 13 years. Here are a few reasons why I love my city so much.

10. Stetson University.It may be full of error but it’s a beautiful campus in the heart of the city.

 

9. Centrally located. 15-30 minutes each way is every huge thing that a person could need, from malls to beaches to theme parks to fancy restaurants, DeLand is in the perfect place to easily travel to these places without having to live there.

 

8. The generational mix.Due to DeLand being a college town, a top place to retire in the U.S. and a great place for people to live and travel to their jobs in Orlando, there is a great diversity in ages here. It truly doesn’t feel that one age bracket is dominating over another.

 

7. Religious favor.DeLand is unique when it comes to churches. They rather work and partner together to see needs met in the community. Where other cities deal with separation of church and state, DeLand just gets things done regardless of what kind of institution it is, religious, government, etc. The city also praises the work and efforts of local churches cause they see how it’s making the city a better place to live.

 

6. All my family and in-laws live here.It’s personal and small, but it’s very important to me.

 

5. Historic Downtown.Our city had spent some serious money preserving the look and feel of the historic days. It’s so beautiful. Also it’s quite fun to have all the shops and businesses. In this Walmart age, having stores that actually specialize in one or two things is refreshing.

 

4. Logical roads.This is a big one for me personally. It’s so easy to travel around DeLand. I have never heard anyone getting list in our city. It’s not a super small town, it’s just well laid out. The city is basically a tic-tac-toe grid…find one of the major streets and you can go anywhere.

 

3. Trees.We have a lot of trees and shade here. It creates beautiful scenery that inspires the soul and mind, not to mention it also provides shade during the hot summer months.

 

2. Parades and festivals. Whether it’s an art or music festival, or a Christmas parade, there is always something that the city does to unite its residents with fun. (Note: I’m writing all of this during our annual Christmas Parade. See attached picture)

 

1. It’s a small town. No matter the influx of people, DeLand has fought to retain that small town feel. Everywhere I go it seems I run into people I know. I love that. It’s a very small taste of heaven.

Saved To Love

Out of all the questions I get, there is one that I rarely ever hear. People will argue about when Jesus is coming back, if tongues and prophecy are still active today, whether women should preach but this question is rarely, if ever discussed:

Why did Jesus die?

I think the reason we never ask this question is because we think we already know what the answer is. These typical answers are usually “so we don’t go to hell” or “because He loves us” and while those answers are true, they are not the root reason.

John 17 gives us some insight about why Jesus gave up His life for us:

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. – John 17:23

As Jesus was praying and battling His choice to go to the cross, He prayed to the Father that we all would be with Him where He is. Forever.

It’s important to realize that Jesus’ prayers doesn’t (and will never) compromise His standards or commands. There was no compromise in His prayer. He didn’t pray “Father, just put whoever or everyone on earth up there so they can see Me.” No. Jesus specifically asked for all His disciples, both present and future to be with Him forever. His prayer was for those who obeyed Him, loved Him, faithfully stayed with Him and followed Him to be allowed to love and be with Him forever.

Jesus died so that lovers could love Him forever.

For Jesus, salvation is not some benefit you sign up for or opt out of. Salvation is directly tied to love. Salvation is a benefit of love, not something ordered a la carte. Psalm 91 states this clearly:

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” – Psalm 91:14-1

God doesn’t need love, but He longs for it. Love is at the very core of who He is and therefore love is at the very core of His relationship with us…and likewise our relationship with Him.

In the New Testament, the gospel was preached for people to know God and love Him, not so that people would have a “get out of hell” free pass, yet this is what the gospel has been reduced to in these days in the Western church. We expect all the benefits and blessings of salvation without any of the devotion or faithfulness that it comes from.

It’s time we return to the gospel. We’re saved to love. Salvation is a person. His name is Jesus Christ. Let’s love our Salvation.

Endnote: I should mention that John Piper wrote an excellent book detailing many other reasons Jesus came to die and the many things it accomplished. He offers it as a free download on his website. You can download it here. I highly recommend this book.