Some more on the Kingdom

I’m challenged by what Ian Parkinson writes about leadership development in the context of transforming communities:

If we have vision to [1] see our own churches grow and above all to [2] grow in influence as agents of community transformation, then these are the two things which need to become our consuming passions. It’s the second one we often find it easiest to neglect, usually because it is time-consuming and costly, because the return on the investment of our time and energies is not immediate and because it gets pushed to one side by more urgent, though less strategic, demands.

On the back of my study door, deliberately printed in very large type so I have to read it as the last thing I do as I leave the room, I have fixed these words from Martin Robinson’s book ‘Invading Secular Space’:

“It is an inviolable rule; you can expand and extend the Gospel only as far as you prepare others to take the responsibility with you.”

Extending the scope of the influence of the Kingdom is largely determined by how serious we are about raising up others. This is exactly what Jesus did of course.

Parkinson goes on to outline four principles from Jesus’ ministry in raising up others:

1. He set before them a vision of what they might become

His initial invitation to the fishermen was not vague nor was it qualified. In language they would instantly understand he sows in their hearts and minds a vision of becoming significant in the purposes of God, of catching not fish but people for God. What’s more, implicit in the invitation is a promise that he would make them more than they could ever be if left to their own devices.

Developing others begins by allowing God to let us see people through his eyes, and thus to discern those whom he is specifically calling. He might well surprise us as he is far better than we are at identifying leadership potential! We should especially be on the lookout for those who instantly respond with excitement when they have imparted to them a vision for the Kingdom of God. We need to pour fuel onto the flame of such enthusiasm and we need always to set before such people the hope of what they might become in the hands of Jesus and in the power of His Spirit.

2. He let them see ministry taking place

For many years, I have always refused to take on any new ministry personally without first identifying someone else who will accompany me in it and who might, in due course, take over responsibility for it from me. I want to expose as many people as possible to the realities of ministry in the power of the Spirit and to whet their own appetite for involvement. From the very beginning, the newly-called disciples of Jesus journey with him and have their minds blown away as they see the realities of the Kingdom of God. It seems to me that we need a very good reason indeed to engage in any ministry responsibility completely on our own; we should always be seeking to take someone along with us and increasingly give away to them responsibility for such ministry.

3. He reflected with them on what they had seen

Jesus is frequently reported in the Gospels as spending time alone with his inner circle, and often is called upon to explain and interpret the things they have seen. One of the most valuable things we can do as leaders is give time to reflect with emerging leaders on what they have witnessed and on what they have done (helping them develop strengths and work through weaknesses).

4. He released them into ministry

… Jesus took [enormous risk] in stepping back and allowing a group of untried, though enthusiastic, novices to go out in his place. I imagine they fouled up from time to time, and they certainly were not the finished article. Nevertheless, overnight Jesus’ ministry was multiplied six fold, and this unpromising band of nobodies went on to kick-start the greatest spiritual revolution the world has ever seen, overwhelming the mighty Roman Empire within the space of a few generations.

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