November 12, 2013

Thoughts from Mark

I and the Father are one.  – Jesus, John 10:30

What does leadership look like in the church?  We know what it actually looks like right now.  Pastors, pastoral staff, boards, directors, deacons, five-fold ministry team, maybe home group leaders, etc…

The question still needs answered from the perspective of spirit, from that of heaven.  Where is the spirit strength for generational transfer derived from?  What is the vehicle of real power and influence for ongoing life in the church?

The truth is that position does not mandate influence.  Someone who has a title denoting a leadership position cannot assume that people follow them.  The abundant life meant for the church begins with Jesus and must flow with the least amount of hindrance.

The “title” or name Jesus gives His leader is key to understanding true church leadership.  Jesus’ authority was His Father.  Fathering, therefore, is the essence of leadership influence. Jesus emulated His leader when He said When you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.  We must assume that the “way” of Jesus was fathering.

Jesus was clear that we have but one Father.  Even Jesus would not assume a role not meant for Him.  That said, His “way”, His culture, was fathering.  I am convinced that this culture is the purest form of leadership in Christianity.

Fathering means to lead in the way of the Father.  Sons, children may see a person as a father but everything in a “Jesus father” points them to their true Father.

There is no owning of a son, no demand for respect or obedience from them because a father realizes that these are all sons of his Father.  The only honor worthy of a father is that which is freely given to him.  Jesus willingly submitted Himself.  Required submission is not submission at all.  It is slavery.

The fruit of fathers is sons.  The primary characteristic of a son is the likeness of the father and the resulting maturity.  A son is unique in his calling, but his nature and culture is of the father.  A son’s identity is released by a father, not created by him.  That privilege is solely the heavenly Father’s.

A positional leader, a professional minister, will not have this priority, to nurture and release the potency of others.  They will see themselves as teachers, as counselors and as dispensers of gifting.  If a person is helped, if they are more knowledgeable, they as a leader have succeeded.  Such leaders find identity in their followers ongoing need of them. This creates permanent followers that help the leader achieve his goals.

When leadership is about the leader, there is little heart connection to those he leads.  The result is easy disconnection.  It’s why many great leaders leave churches for other ones.  They see greater opportunity to release their gifting to a greater audience.  This leaves his previous people confused as their connected heart has severed ties.

Such a culture is foreign to a father.  The life of a son is a father’s world.  To leave sons would literally kill him.  Fathers don’t leave sons.  Sons are sent out by fathers.

Fathers seek transformation.  Their fulfillment comes when the son grows to no longer depend upon him.  Instead, need transitions to partnership, to oneness.  I and the Father are one. A beautiful interdependence exemplified in Jesus and His Father.

As sons mature, the joy of the father is to come alongside the son to influence his leadership and fathering.  A son’s honor is desiring the father’s influence.  Fathers are secure enough to do this because their pleasure is not the son’s need of him, but in his ongoing becoming.

Imagine a church lead in such a way.  An ongoing cycle of fathers releasing sons to be fathers.  Fathers influencing other fathers and sons in the nature and culture of our heavenly Father.

This is the surest way for the abundant life of Jesus to flow with the least amount of resistance.  Fathers, who are sons, making way for more sons.  Sons making way for THE Father.  This being the greatest honor they could bestow upon their earthly fathers.  This is the heart of Jesus in men.

Admittedly, this is an unusual culture compared to much of the modern-day church.  But I see a generation of great ones.  I see myriads of Christ-leaders, not Christ-followers. These are the sons, walking in the full nature of their Father, for which the earth is groaning.

You have not many fathers.  This is not an accepted fact by Paul, but an indictment upon a failing leadership style.  He was responding to the cry of orphaned children.

Stop following a leader.  Become a son who becomes a father.

In love,