Thursday, August 21, 2008

Finding the Leader

Here are some thoughts from our Fearless Leader, Doctor Steve Douglass, that should be helpful when you get to campus and start building Bible studies and setting up leaders:

“I can’t find any people to lead Bible studies or movement groups!” is what I sometimes have heard from staff. “Do you have anyone at all?” I ask, to which they usually answer “Sure, but there are some problems that disqualify them.” In other words they are not without flaw.

Well, guess what? None of us are without flaw, and we have yet to grow to what we can be. Now I am not saying that there are no disqualifiers. What I am saying is that God can salvage people from a bad past.

Consider the apostle Paul. When we first met him in Scripture, he was a leader in the persecution of the church. He was responsible for the arrest and abuse of many first century Christians. If asked, I am sure almost all Christians during that time would have agreed that there was no way Paul (Saul) could ever be used by God to be a leader in the church.

Yet God called Paul, brought him through trials and teaching, and eventually used him to author more of the New Testament and to inaugurate more ministry among Gentiles than anyone else. Is it unusual for God to salvage people? No! In fact He seems to relish it.

Consider the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. In it we find:

  • Rahab – a harlot from Jericho who married Salmon and became the mother of Boaz, and she is mentioned in Hebrews 11 and James 2 as an example of faith.

  • Ruth – a Moabite, whose people were traditionally enemies of the children of Israel, became a timeless example of loyalty. Her marriage to Boaz, an Israelite, led them to become the great grandparents of King David.

  • David - a dutiful King, yet one who committed adultery and murder.

  • Bathsheba – an adulteress with David who eventually becomes the mother of King Solomon.

  • Four flawed people, whom God was able to redeem out of bad backgrounds and shame—as they were willing to turn from their sin and serve Him.

You might be saying it isn’t always sin that disqualifies people; sometimes it is a lack of ministry competencies. I will grant that it is good for people to have innate abilities to lead groups or start spiritual conversations. At the same time many of the twelve apostles selected by Jesus lacked ministry skills. Peter had a knack for saying the wrong thing. Thomas wasn’t exactly full of faith. And I can only imagine how Levi came across as a seasoned tax collector. God can make anyone useful if he or she is willing.

So why am I writing about this to you? In my next Global Connection, I will be sharing with you strategy components that we should emphasize in Campus Crusade for Christ. They are phrased in a way that emphasizes the mobilization of people.

These components may be of no surprise to you. We are all about spiritual multiplication—which involves passing ownership of ministry on to others. But that won’t happen if we view most of our disciples as “disqualified” for one reason or another.

If we find it hard to have faith that God is able to use them, we won’t even try to challenge them toward their potential as a leader. Or, we may embark on a process of discipleship that is so drawn out that people drop out needlessly.

Am I advocating that we should ignore that people have certain barriers to becoming multipliers? No, not at all. I am just advocating that we:

Have faith that God can make people useful to Him.

Look for people whose hearts are right before God (“good soil”).

Work with them aggressively to use their strengths and grow in their weak areas.

Give them a chance to try to minister, perhaps a little sooner than we might think.

Encourage them throughout the process.

Anytime you find yourself reluctant to do these things, think first of one of your own experiences or those of someone you know well. How “perfect” were you when you got started? How skilled were you at evangelism and discipleship? How different are you now than when someone believed in you and let you try?

Thoughts to consider during your devotional times:

1) Look at the five points at the end of this letter. Think of someone whom you have been reluctant to let minister. Honestly assess how you are doing with them in each of the five points.

2) Select one area where you realize you can improve in your ability to help that person achieve his or her potential in ministry.

3) Ask the Lord to give you one or two action steps to help achieve that improvement.

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