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How to become an intentional leader

February 11, 2013

On Februray 10th I had the opportunity of sharing some thoughts on “How to become an Intentional leader” at Kings Fellowship in Inverness –

in this post I’ve published the audio recording, the slides and my notes for this talk… I hope you find it informative and inspirational… peace be with you.. Andy



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How to be an intentional leader RLD-Week 5.003

When Thom, Chris and I met to plan how we were going to deliver this series I just can’t tell you how excited I was to be given the opportunity to share this session with you.

Leadership, Intentional leadership is something I’ve been excited about for the best part of twenty years – I’ve studied it, learned about it, I’ve taught on it and I try to live this way… to turn what I’ve learned into practical application.

Can I ask you a question – and I would like you to be really honest with me – who when they hear the word leadership feels that it is not about them, it’s not relevant, that’s what other people do…?

You see that’s where we have a misconception about leadership – it is relevant to each one of us.

Who here is a mum, a dad, a friend, a brother, a sister, a work mate, a colleague… in a family, in the workplace, in school – the opportunities for leadership for making disciples for each of us are HUGE!

An intentional leader is a disciple maker… an intentional leader imitates Jesus…

Intentional Leaders Imitate JesusRLD-Week 5.004

A church I belonged to in the early 1980’s had a really good mentoring ethos – younger christians and those further along the way had the opportunity of sharing life with eachother… which was good…

but one of the funny things I observed was that folks started to dress like and have the same mannerisms of the guys who were mentoring them – I referred to this as ‘cloning’. It was possible to tell who was someones mentor by the way they copied their mentors clothing…

What we’re talking about here is not about copying Jesus clothing – but engaging with the mind, the heart and the hands of Jesus Christ… and to become intentional, we really need to take a hold of Jesus plan for making disciples.

This is important as…

We are in danger of either assuming that we have no part to play and that somehow disciples will figure it all out by themselves… or on the other extreme we build a inflexible set of requirements and standards that ‘have to be’ ticked off before someone is recognised as being a disciple.

Jesus had a plan but was not limited by a curriculum, and it is this model of Jesus that we endeavour to follow as intentional leaders.

so this morning I want us to get an understanding of Jesus’s plan for making disciples by looking at aspects of the Head, Heart and Hands of Jesus…RLD-Week 5.005

and at the end illustrate these from a well known bible story.

We’re going to look at the Head first – but I’m going to have to skim through this more quickly than I would like… as we’ve a lot to get through today…

Intentional Leaders understand the gameRLD-Week 5.006

Last Sunday night a bunch of us got together to watch the SuperBowl – what a game (Go Ravens).

I’ve been watching super bowls for years – and only have a very basic understanding of the rules of the game, the positions, the nuances of the offensive, defensive and special teams… I would be a useless player… and a worse coach…

but watching the teams on Sunday, it was clear that the players on both sides knew the rules, they had learned and practiced the calls, they knew their positions, they created opportunities… and they played the game with commitment. Both teams played with the intention to win.

Now I don’t particularly like using sports analogies when talking about things of the Kingdom. But there are parallels we can draw from sports…

Disciple makers need to understand the ‘game’ we are in… we need to…

Understand the Spiritual BattleRLD-Week 5.007

Disciple makers need to understand the spiritual realities behind the world we live in…

I could spend the rest of this morning on this topic… This is a whole teaching in itself…

The battle between heaven and hell is REAL. We really need to get to grips with this.. the battle is real…

Christians are in a spiritual battle for souls against an enemy that seeks to destroy everyone…

The eternal destinies of fathers, mothers, children, friends and co-workers are at stake…

and It is foolishness to think that new Christians will figure this out without someone coaching them through it…. and that is one of the roles of a disciple maker…

The second HEAD thing that disciple makers need to do in the ‘game’ is to understand the rules…

RLD-Week 5.008Maintain a Biblical Worldview

Understanding the mind of God and mastering the Bible is a lifetimes work.

and Intentional Leaders work to build a biblical worldview… to understand the rules…

Keep studying the Bible, wrestle with it… wrestle with it together with other people… (If you’re a bloke… come along to HGV on a saturday morning at Morissons and share your insights)…

The good news is that we don’t have to understand absolutely everything to be used by God as a disciple maker… we need to know just enough before we start to lead…

That’s what God wants of us… a disciplined teachableness to seek his will for this world… To be able to trust him to provide what we need to know, when we need to know it… and to respond in faith.

When I read about Jesus interacting with the disciples in the gospels it is amazing how often the writers of the gospels say something along the lines of ‘Jesus said this – but they didn’t understand for the time wasn’t right’… but when the time came they did understand.

the final HEAD thing that disciple makers need to do is to…

Avoid Dependence on a Formal Classroom RLD-Week 5.009

I was chatting to John Aitken recently he’s doing a Forestry course at the college… It got me to wonder what it would be like to try to learn how to use a chainsaw in a classroom setting, without getting to handle one out in the forest, to know the weight of it and to experience the torque… it just isn’t possible…

and so it is with disciple making – it can’t be a totally classroom environment.

I believe that disciple making is more ‘caught’ than ‘taught’

Jesus did teach in the synagogues; but the vast majority of His disciple making took place in home, fields, markets, towns and villages… real places… where real people were.

Intentional leaders will take people to the field.

Ok the HEAD part in summary…

Intentional Leaders understand the game… by

  • understanding the spiritual battle…
  • maintaining a Biblical world view…
  • and getting out of the classroom.

ok? – lets move on to heart…

Intentional Leaders understand their peopleRLD-Week 5.010

8 or 9 years ago I took a ‘training leaders’ class where I learned a particular model for evaluating and training up leaders…

Some leaders would only be interested in getting the job done and trample all over his people…

while other leaders wouldn’t care too much about getting the job done but would want to make sure that his people were happy and content….

neither of these extremes is good.

However in this model leaders who both understood the game, AND understood their people… were the ones who could really lead effectively.

The model of leadership that Jesus portrayed was that he knew all about the ‘game’, and also he really cared for and understood his team of disciples…

So an intentional leader will… know what to look for in people…

RLD-Week 5.011know what to look for

please note this is not about assigning ‘value’ to people…

It’s about understanding were individual people are on their journey, and being able to come alongside and provide appropriate support and encouragement…

An intentional leader needs to be able to identify a disciples stage of growth…

Infant, Child, Young Adult, Parent… and adapt the plan to suit the needs of the individual..

And they need to be able to identify the potential, the abilities and experience that the disciples have…

I have friends that belong to a church planting movement – and they can ‘recognise’ a potential church planter in about 30 seconds flat… and intentional leaders do that…

An intentional leader will see the possibility within a person – and will cherish it, will hold it precious.
All of you here this morning carry potential for brilliance…

… some are realising that potential and some have yet to tap into it…

but it’s a fabulous journey we’re all on.

and to have the opportunity to see the potential, to identity the stage of growth… intentional leaders must follow Jesus’s example of being WITH His disciples…

Jesus WITH His Disciples RLD-Week 5.012

Being with someone is being fully present with them… we can’t do the relationship part of discipleship solely on a Sunday morning, or even at a midweek meeting…

Jesus was with his disciples… he walked from town to town with them… ate meals with them… they hung out together… He knew their families… He knew their aspirations…

A friend who leads a church in the US won’t go to the post office, or to a meeting, or visiting someone who is ill, or getting a hair cut, or any part of church without taking an Intern with him…

In those times he’s listening to their stories, telling jokes, laughing and sometimes crying with them… Mike is an intentional leader… and many of His interns, His Disciples are now intentional leaders, leading their own churches all over the world.

Disciple makers invest time with their disciples…

and there’s a partner to being with that Mike exemplifies… and that is he listens to his disciples…

Listening to DisciplesRLD-Week 5.013

Really listening is almost a dead art.

Really listening is not just being quiet…

Really listening is not using the time that someone else is talking to think of what your going to say next…

or assuming you ‘know’ someone, without really hearing them out…

It is engaging with what others are saying (with their words, their actions, their emotions and behaviours) to discern the heart of the person.

There are a huge number of examples when Jesus “Knew their hearts” when he was asked a question… he discerned through listening to them (and to God)…

And from that place he was ready to respond appropriately.

He was able to help people to find their ‘FIT’

Helping People Find their ‘Fit’RLD-Week 5.014

Rick Warrens book “The Purpose Driven Life” describes how it is important for people to understand their S.H.A.P.E…

Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experience…

in order to fullfil their purpose in Christ.

An intentional leader will help a disciple understand their SHAPE and find their FIT in the body of Christ,

and it doesn’t stop there… as disciples skills, heart, abilities, character and experience grow a good intentional leader will see this and create opportunities for disciples to grow into.

When I was a young christian I felt that I got pigeon-holed into a particular role… and while it was true initially… when I grew I didn’t fit anymore in the space I was put in, and my growth ‘ground’ to a halt… but when I came to Kings in the late 1990’s I felt that I was given opportunities in new areas and released into new things… and I started growing again…

Disciple makers help people find their FIT…

and this neatly leads us into ‘HANDS’…

Disciple makers need to be able to create an environment for growth…

Intentional Leaders Create an Environment for GrowthRLD-Week 5.015

my mum was a great gardener… in the summer her wee patch of garden was a riot of colour, with huge variety of flowers, with hanging baskets all over the place…

However nearly everything that was in the garden was started in her green house… seeds were planted in the right compost with the right amount of moisture with the appropriate nutrient, seedlings replanted into bigger pots, tended and cared for… young adult plants being gently exposed to ‘outdoor’ life in cloches, and cold frames… and finally when they were ready planted into the garden… were they grew and were fruitful.

My mum was an intentional gardner… a garden maker…

Each of us needs an environment for growth – and intentional leaders, disciple makers create these environments for disciples… we create places to play..

RLD-Week 5.016A place to play

In a previous church we used to use the phrase “Everyone gets to play”… and disciples need to have safe places to try things out…

This is the basis of much of what is done in “Blue Flame – fan into flames” meeting…
the Blue flame team provide a safe environment to try out your spiritual skills…

Kings Life groups are currently being encouraged to play… with CAP Money, Parenting Alpha and others… these opportunities are being created intentionally for disciples to grow in…

My own personal favourite place to play… is… Children’s Work…

I love Children’s work – there’s something fantastically simple about being with a group of kids… it does great stuff in sorting out your ego, and learning practical humility. It’s a great place to learn how to really listen… it’s a great place to learn and practice leadership.

And I wish I had time to share some of the stories I have about children’s work… but if you want to see the next generation of church leadership, of worship leaders, of teachers, prophets, pastors, apostles and evangelists… look to our children’s work… become a disciple maker of our children.

This is my own personal soapbox ok – but I don’t think a church, any church, should have ever have to ask for volunteers for children’s ministry – I believe that there should be a queue of people with vision and passion for making disciples, banging on the doors of kids ministry crying let me in… I wanna play too!

Ok I’ll get off my soap box now… but if I’ve touched a nerve, and maybe your feeling a little tug this morning, and you want to respond… I’m sure that if you have a chat with Catriona she’ll find a place for you to play. ok.

What Catriona and her team do is absolutely awesome… it’s kingdom… just jump in…

The final “Hand” that an intentional leader creates is…

an environment to succeedRLD-Week 5.017

In providing an opportunity for people to play in an environment for growth… an intentional leader will provide the tools needed to succeed…

There are three areas that an environment for growth needs to provide in order for a disciple to succeed… and these come back to Head, Heart and Hands… again…

the first of these concerns the “Head” and primarily information and bible knowledge needed for the disciple to function in the environment – both blue flame and our kids work are excellent at this…

(and as I’m recruiting for street pastors at the moment I should also take the opportunity to say that everything you’ll ever need to know about any area of ministry can be learned on street pastors training, starting after the easter break…sign up sheet at the back!)

The second concerns the “Heart” opportunity to develop character and relationship skills, and I would include here “vision”… the vision I have for kids work wasn’t grown outside the kids work… it was grown in hothouse of children’s ministry I spent every sunday for 3 years in Children’s ministry, I loved it… God will work on any disciples heart who is willing to say “yes” and jump in…

The final area is “Hands” these are the development of ministry skills and Abilities. A safe place to play gives us the opportunity to develop necessary ministry motor skills… think about it… who remembers learning to drive… your feet wouldn’t do what you wanted, getting the sequence for changing up and down gears without grinding the gears or crashing into reverse…. and managing to steer, indicate, check mirrors… it was tough… but now… who really thinks about all that stuff… you just drive..

there’s one more thing we need to cover before we come to an end today and that is “boundaries”… and this applies to each of Head, Hearts and Hands…

Boundaries – God’s Role, our Role and the Disciples RoleRLD-Week 5.018

Jesus said that he could only do what he saw the father do… Jesus knew that Judas would betray him… and allowed him to make that choice…

Boundaries are something that leaders or disciplers really need to understand… and these can be difficult lessons if we don’t catch on quickly…

Because of the deep relationships intentional leaders build up with disciples it can be easy to slip into becoming too responsible… feeling that everything depends on you.

And if we’re not careful we could fall into a trap of being too controlling, or trying to be God… to engineer things for our agenda… because ‘we know what’s best’…

Intentional leaders know their place, they know the field they are to play on, and they don’t stray out of bounds – they don’t try to take on God’s role and to ‘make things happen’.. and neither are they responsible for whether a disciple chooses to grow or not.

An intentional leader can only take responsibility for their own role. For the part they play in making disciples…

Earlier I mentioned that there are opportunities to serve in Childrens work here… I presented the opportunity… if you felt a nudge to respond to that opportunity, and then chose not to… well that is not my responsibility…. that’s free will, and your free will is your responsibility.

But if you felt the nudge and do respond – then the glory of your choice fully belongs to God… and I will rejoice and worship Him for it.

In the past I was pretty bad with boundaries – I would take on responsibility far too easily… I would own every problem and strive to make everything right… then one of my kids in Childrens work died of cancer… I was powerless, I couldn’t keep her alive… I felt responsible for her death, the pain of her family and the impact it had on others… please believe me when I say that you don’t want that sort of pain.

Then one day I felt that I heard God quietly say to me “I think your sitting in my chair”… It was a gentle voice, but the truth was plain for me to see… I had overstepped the boundary and needed to get back into line… and I am learning to understand my role, and to understand the boundaries that God has in place for my benefit, for my protection.

Only accept responsibility for the role that God has assigned to you… and know the boundaries.

Head, Heart and Hands…RLD-Week 5.019

Lets look at Jesus putting this all in action…

Lets look at the feeding of the 5,000… if you want to follow this in your bibles it’s John 6:2-14

2 A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick.

3 Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. 4 (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.)

Where was Jesus Classroom – out on a hill…
Where were his disciples – He was WITH them…

5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him.

Jesus saw an environment for growth…

Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.

He had a spiritual perspective.. he was intentional about what he was doing…
and he engaged with his people, calling out what he saw in them…

7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”
8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. 9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

He listened to what they had to say…

10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.)

He gave the disciples assignments…

11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.

Jesus Biblical worldview knew that the Father would provide… and he demonstrated it…

12 After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples,“Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” 13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.

The disciples saw the evidence of the multiplication of the food…

14 When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”

Jesus is our model of an intentional leader, a disciple maker… making disciples who made disciples.

RLD team RLD-Week 5.020

If you’re part of the group that are working through the training material

Could I have two or three of you to share was there anything that really stood out for you in the material this week, and how you intend to apply it…

To close with – In SummaryRLD-Week 5.021

How to be an intentional leader –

Imitate Jesus’s Intentional Leadership – have the the mind, heart and spirit of Jesus Christ

Have a plan – meet people where they are at, and have a place to go with them

Understand the battle we are in

Understand the needs and potential of individual people

Create places to play, places for growth

Know your boundaries.

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