Painting the Future

This is a painting by the artist Magritte which I was first introduced to by Stuart Murray Williams and which I now steal regularly!  It is a picture that all leaders would find worth pondering.  Here are some questions to help you reflect on your own role as a prophetic, entrepreneurial or creative leader:

  • What is the artist doing?
  • What does the egg represent for you – a person, a community, an initiative,  a congregation, a vision, a network or something else?
  • What is your role as the artist?
  • What if you are the egg?  Who is the artist – a parent, a mentor, a friend, someone who believes in you… God?
  • Who has seen and drawn out your potential?
  • Is there more to be realised?

Ponder…reflect…give thanks…imagine…pray…do something…

JK

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Imitate Me?

People follow leaders.  One of the greatest accolades a leader can have is when someone says ‘I did what I thought you would do’.  To hear this is indeed very humbling yet it also adds weight to the burden of responsibility leaders have to be good role models.

The pioneering church planter and former disciple-hater and murderer Paul was not afraid to urge people to imitate him (1 Corinthians 4 v 16), yet he must have been abundantly aware that there was much in his former life he didn’t want people to imitate and he must have been aware that in his old life he himself had caused much pain and suffering in peoples’ lives.  The only way Paul and the disciples could have journeyed on from this is is in the arms of forgiveness which Paul first experienced on the road to Damascus.

Forgiveness is a precious gift and characteristic we leaders can model as we choose to acknowledge our own failings and the pain we may have caused others and ask for forgiveness.  It is also something we can model as we daily make choices to forgive those who have let us down and as we forgive ourselves for not always being the people we seek in our hearts to be.

Who knows, maybe one day someone will say that they forgave a person because they knew that’s what we would do…?  JK

Great timing!

Teenage son winding me up.

I swear at son.

Son calls me a hypocrite.

Don’t you hate it when your imperfect, incomplete self shows up

just when you should be coming up with some gems of

wisdom about Christian leadership to share with the blogosphere…

Thanks for keeping me real son!

JK

Liberating Leadership

As someone who has been following the Occupy movement with some intrigue I have been pondering Brian’s last post about leaderless movements.  I have visited the St Paul’s Occupy site twice recently and today I visited their newest site in London, the Bank of Ideas – a disused property owned by one of the banks recently bailed out by the British tax payer.

On each visit I have been warmly welcomed and included in discussions and even decision-making processes.  To begin with it has sometimes felt awkward not knowing who to go to for information but this has forced me to speak to one of the first people I have encountered to acknowledge my inexperience and humbly ask to glean their knowledge of the situation.  On each occasion I have received helpful, warm and empowering information.

In an age when I hardly need to be dependent on anyone for help (because my phone tells me everything I need to know!) it is actually quite liberating to rediscover this character of my humanity.

Having a visible, active, all-knowing leader may give us a sense of security but it may not always be the type of leadership that empowers and releases the most people.  Could hidden leadership which pushes others forward and enables them to discover their own talents be a strength rather than a weakness?

JK

Bank of Ideas

Bank of Ideas

Don’t Be Sheep – Ask Questions!

Two viral videos have caught my eye in recent weeks.

The first is this very funny, controversial video made by a couple of guys questioning some of the laws and controls imposed on us here in the UK – laws which seem to have crept in and become accepted and obeyed without anyone daring to question why.  With an incredible wit and with the passion and communication skills of a seasoned evangelist they enable the scales to drop from our eyes and give us permission to ask why we don’t think twice about complying with so many unwritten and arguably unhealthy laws and expectations. (It is 8 mins long – so grab a coffee before you watch – and make sure you don’t spill it because you will laugh!)

The second video appeared on BBC News yesterday and tells of a 2yr old girl in China who was hit by a van.  Not only did the van drive off but CCTV shows that no less than 16 people walked past the fatally injured girl before someone stopped to help.  The reasons seem complex and  knee-jerk theories appear to centre around people being reluctant to help for fear of  being liable for fees for medical help or being blamed for the incident.  One quote said:

“There’s been so many cases where people have been treated unjustly after doing good things”.

A modern day Parable of the Good Samaritan if ever there was one!

These two stories cause me to ponder the gift of asking questions and I find myself reflecting on why many people, organisations and churches find it so threatening when people pose them.  Is it because when people ask questions it opens the possibility of those in authority losing control?  Is it because most of our self-confidence is so low that questions feed our insecurities?

But yet asking questions can help us to reflect on why things are the way they are and seek better possibilities.  Asking questions also releases us from the disabling fear of not conforming and gives us power to act justly even at the risk of personal cost or false accusation.

I am intrigued by the fact that Jesus seemed to ask many more questions than he appeared to give straight answers.  In fact I could well imagine Jesus standing with a megaphone pointing out the obvious, asking the questions, mocking the system, making people think and reminding people that there are always other options.

The opening verse of Romans 12 challenges us:

‘Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.’

Let’s not be sheep – Let’s ask questions!

JK

 

 

Jesus Spring

Last week in the UK a programme was broadcast on BBC2 called ‘How Facebook Changed the World’.  It investigated and charted how social networking underpinned the revolutions and uprisings that have become known as the ‘Arab Spring’.  The ability for young men and women to circulate information about the injustices they witnessed, galvanise support and communicate the whereabouts of demonstrations enabled a swift and effective liberation movement of like-minded people, particularly in the initial nations such as Tunisia and Egypt. 

This week-end I was invited to share a story at a conference called Future Church.  Organised by the Northumbria Community and the Anabaptist Network it wanted to explore the factors that will be impacting church in 20 years time. In part of my story I imagined how church might look with two further decades of social media behind it.  Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson in their recent book On the Verge which calls itself  ‘a journey into the apostolic future of the church’ state that ‘the digital era, with the associated network thinking and acting, sets us up to experience movement again in a significant way.’ (p32)

We talk with longing in our hearts about church as a movement rather than an institution but I do wonder how many of us mainstream church-type people are ready for or indeed would welcome such a spontaneous and seemingly out of control movement of Jesus followers – just regular people trying to peacefully do what Jesus would do – a ‘Jesus Spring’ if you like! 

Hirsch and Ferguson go on to say that ‘Christianity is designed to be a people’s liberation movement, a social force, a viral idea passing from person to person through the medium of gospel and discipleship, creating gospel communities in its wake.’  This week I find myself asking what type of leadership we need to begin practising that could  facilitate, release and cope with mass levels of disorganised but holy Jesus chaos. 

In my story I included this rather wonderful ‘parable for a church tucked up in bed’, written by my friends Matt & Juls Hollidge at Kore.  After 2000 years of packaging and controlling the gospel I wonder how we as leaders can keep the focus on the Wild Thing!  JK

The Fun Theory

During the last few weeks I have had several conversations with emerging leaders who are beginning to reflect on the impact leadership is having on them.  They are reflecting on questions about what friendship looks like when you are a leader, or how to cope when everyone seems to only want to talk to you when they want something, or how you cope when the buck stops with you and you have to take responsibility for making the call.

There is no denying that there is a cost to leadership – there are issues to be reflected on and worked through and to not do so can leave us with shaky foundations.

But leadership can also be great fun!  As leaders our task is not only to ‘manage’ things and troubleshoot, but to envision, to draw forward, to push boundaries, to create, to imagine how things could be better.  I love the work of the guys at www.thefuntheory.com. They believe that you can change peoples’ behaviour for the better by making it more fun.  As a leader is this something I can employ as I seek to inspire and change peoples’ behaviour?  How much fun is allowed in your place of leadership?  Can you instigate more?

JK