Stewarding Our Vocational Power in the New Year

Are you thinking about how to approach life and discipleship in the New Year? Our resolutions can’t all be about weight loss, can they?! If you are giving thought about how to integrate your faith into all of life, maybe this short talk I gave during a Flourish San Diego learning community session this last year could help spur on your thinking and pursuing:

We set out to build a church, and we come across the promise of gifting for the benefit of the church and the kingdom…

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, [5] so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. [6] Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:..” Romans 12:4–6(ESV)

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—[5] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, [6] one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [7] But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:4–7 (ESV)

Then over time, we adapt this list to the programmatic needs of the church. We focus on hospitality, who will welcome and serve those that attend our church? Musical gifting, who can we train to lead musical worship in the church? Teaching Children, who will tackle the ever-present need to serve in ministry to kiddos? On and on it goes. Practical needs surrounding the weekly gathering of the church take precedent.

We tend then to not recognize gifting but need and pigeonhole people into meeting them.  We might see vocational expertise but we see them through a lens of what they can do for the church. So we tap the graphic designers or electricians to do the work of the church and trust that the successful entrepreneurs will give lots of money to the church.

What then develops over time is perhaps a big machine. The only thing that matters is the machine and our sense of mission, place, and vocation are sacrificed on the altar of church success. But this is not the church we find being built in the New Testament… 

There is another way, yes gifts are given by the Spirit for the health and flourishing of the body, but that is not exclusive to within the walls of the church, because the church flourishes when all of its parts, all of its members recognize and use the passions, talents, opportunities for kingdom good. 

This is discovering and stewarding our vocational power. 

This is seeing people as individuals with various gifts, called to be a redemptive, renewing force in our world, that others may experience the renewal that is found in Christ. 

This is the equipping for ministry the church is called to, laboring to expose and give examples of how vocation is sacred and our place has a purpose. Shall we be about this work? Let’s.

Brewing Leaders

Almost ten months ago at our church, I invited a small group of guys to purposefully hang out once a month to read about and discuss issues from a gospel-oriented perspective. We have talked about defining the whole gospel, what it means to love our neighbors, how to form deep relationships in the church, preventing and exposing abuse, seeing our careers as the avenue we can do good for the glory of God, and how the church can become a “creative minority” in our culture. We meet each month on the third Thursday in local brewpubs or tasting rooms (which we have plenty of in San Diego) so we called it ‘Brewing Leaders.’ Of course not everyone in the group drinks…

Originally the group was formed to give me more one-on-a-few time with those beginning or continuing to lead in the church and model a discipleship context that could be replicated when each of them begins their own group. But design doesn’t always meet real life and there has been an increasing desire from other guys in the church to participate in something similar.

To that end, in September, I am planning to launch two new groups for guys to study the same articles and have the same discussions in a new relational context. And instead of being invite only, I am opening the group to any guy at Reservoir who wants to participate and can commit to attending regularly.

The new groups will be “Bottled Leaders” on the first Thursday of each month, and “Boba Leaders” on the fourth Thursday of each month. As the names imply, the Bottled gang will stick to the brew-pub/bottle barn venue and the Boba dudes will stick with non-alcoholic beverages which may be highly preferred for a few of us.

So if you are a guy, part of Reservoir Church, and interested in leadership in the church, home, and culture, jot me a note at jonathan[at]reservoirchurchsd.org and let me know which of the two new groups you are interested in.

Six is an optimal number for each group so once we hit that number we will close the opportunity for this season. Of course, if the interest is outrageous, we could always have a “Donut Leaders!”

And ladies, if you are interested in something similar let me know as well as we are trying to form a group for you along the same lines.

 

On Becoming a Leader

Justin Taylor has highlighted an interview with Michael Lindsey about his new book View from the Top. It is a look at how the powerful see the world and insightful in the conversation is how people become leaders. Asked if there was one defining characteristic or shared trait in the stories of how leaders got to where they are, Lindsey summed up his findings with this:

So a lot of your major demographic characteristics do not matter on your likelihood to succeed. What does matter is the formative influence of an adult who speaks into your life and who has a sustaining relationship with you that you carry with you. Each of us could identify one, two, or three people outside of our family who had a formative influence, and my hunch is that the relationship you had was not for months, or for semesters, but for years. That’s what Christian Institutions can create and that’s one of the things that we found that was really special.”

You can be born anywhere, have nearly any experience, and if an adult pours into you, mentors you, you can become a leader. This is the proof of mentoring with research to back it up. You can read the rest of the interview here.

The implications of this reality for the church is an obligation to make the legacy of the church, and the older members of our church, our ability to influence and care for the next generation. Who are we inviting to the conversation. Who are we choosing to spend time with to build up and encourage.

This doesn’t mean you have to mentor everyone. And sometimes those you choose to mentor are not a right match for you. But we keep on, giving our experience and encouragement to a new generation of leaders. I too can name the few non-family members that providing the greatest encouragement and opportunity and now I recognize the importance of these discipleship relationships within the church. Let’s be about it.

Is there One among you that does not belong?

In an article on productivity on Inc. Drake Baer shares nine tricks that influential execs use to improve the effectiveness of their meetings. It is a good list, mostly.

What stood out to me was this about Evernote’s chief:

“Evernote CEO Phil Libin always brings a high-potential employee to participate.”

At any given meeting at Evernote, there will be someone there who doesn’t belong.

This is by design. The cloud note-taking startup has an internal program called “officer training,” where employees get assigned to meetings that aren’t in their specialty area in order to explore other parts of the company.

“They’re there to absorb what we’re talking about,” Libin says. “They’re not just spectators. They ask questions; they talk.”

Libin got the idea from talking with a friend who served on a nuclear submarine. In order to be an officer of such a sub, you had to know how to do everybody else’s job.

“Those skills are repeatedly trained and taught,” he says. “And I remember thinking, ‘That’s really cool.'”

It is a discipleship mentality that I think we are missing at many of our churches (and other organizations as well). The mentoring, or at least exposure, of others to train them up. And it is not just watching, these officers in training are interacting and participating. Does this happen on your elder board, your staff team?

Not a bad idea. Bring someone with you that doesn’t belong…