Daily Prayer :: Wind

First steps on the journey of faith and community

November 22 — Agree to accomplish great things

Leadership is a team effort
Passionate leaders who discipline themselves according to their hard-won mutual agreements are key to accomplishing great things.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it

Read Philippians 3:12-21

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

More thoughts for meditation

Paul’s leadership was crucial to the spread of faith in Jesus. In the passage for today, his passion is striking. He assumes everyone will come to their rendition of his kind of passion. If they don’t, he expects God will shine His light on why they haven’t. He is content that people should at least live up to what has already been given to them, even if they are not as ambitious as he is for the fullness of life in the Spirit.

Paul’s thinking is characteristic of how leaders serve the church.

  • They trust God for clarity.
  • They hope everyone will give what they have been given.
  • They stay out front encouraging everyone.
  • They stay behind helping people to keep moving.
  • They expect people to live in the light they have.

The leader relies on the mutual agreement we all have with God. He or she does not create faith or supply spiritual motivation. Christians live together in love and truth by their mutual agreement as people who are gifted with the Spirit of God. Our agreement holds us together. Agreement is a description of an action, not just a name for a document. Our ongoing, mutual dialogue in Christ forms and shapes our mutual understanding and direction. That agreement is a key factor in how much difference we make.

So we often talk about our agreements when we describe our relationships; and we try to be careful to write them out so we know what we are talking about.

  • The whole church creates a yearly agreement; we call it “The Map.”
  • Each cell spends some time inventing the agreement that will lead them.
  • The covenant members at the heart of the church live by their covenant.
  • Our staff works by agreement; we call them “covenants for service.”
  • The compassion teams and mission teams are defined by their agreements.

Our agreements lay out what we have “already attained.”

Our agreements are practical expressions of our passion for one another and our common mission. They are not contracts or laws; they are like the membranes around a cell that gives the cell its character while still allowing for growth and change. The leader is a catalyst who activates and monitors the movement of all we have agreed to be and do.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Give me passion to pursue the prize.

Spend some time praying for your leaders: pastor, cell, team. If you have the time, pray for their leaders: the Cell Leader Coordinators, The Core Teams, and yourself, the Council. Pray especially that we live up to what we have already attained.

Today is Eberhard Arnold Day! Understand more about the founder of the Bruderhof at Celebrating our Transhistorical Body.

Today is also C. S. Lewis Day! Celebrate this great 20th Century apologist and imagineer at Celebrating our Transhistorical Body.

November 21 — Respond to what you smell

Leadership is a team effort
Nothing should be left to fester until the pastors smell it.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it

Read  Amos 5:18-27

I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me….
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

More thoughts for meditation

Using the Amos text to consider today’s proverb makes it look like pastors are like God, which they are decidedly not, at least not in authority. They are not in the place of God, waiting for some smelly activity to rise to their refined spiritual nostrils — an activity which they will probably need to condemn in a hurry!

The point of the Amos prophecy is better seen as saying, “You all know what is right! How could you get duped into practicing fake religion that has no substance?” That stinks! Rooting out falseness and inauthenticity should not be something left to the pastors; it is a group project. Amos expects anyone related to God to smell things like God smells them. Lack of reconciliation or soul-killing sin should not warrant a call to Pastor 911. We are all in this together.

It is probably a leader’s nightmare to come into our spiritual house and smell some kind of moral stink. He or she will help the system be a caring one; but if everyone acts like it is the leader’s church and not theirs, it  is not much of  a church.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Help me keep my nose open and give me courage to respond to what I smell.

Take an inventory of your spiritual environment. Are there relationships in it that stink? Is there a spiritual problem that is festering in someone? Is there a sore that is not healing? Is there some kind of garbage that needs to be taken out? You may need the help of your cell leader or your pastor to be of service in the situation. But see what you can do. We are all in this together.

November 20 — Take some initiative

Leadership is a team effort
Our basic mission is to build cells and our primary leaders are deployed and trained for that work. We wait for people to take the lead in further enterprises, or we don’t do them.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it

Read 3 John

 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

More thoughts for meditation

The New Testament has many reports of conflict among the leaders. In 3 John we see that the Apostle John is being disrespected by Diotrophes “who loves to be first.” John is recommending Demetrius and speaks “well of him.” And he is encouraging a church leader, Gaius, who is relating to the other two. John knows it will be better if he shows up in person to help everyone work together and “imitate…what is good.”

Our pastors are a little like John. Our Cell Leader Coordinators and Core Team members are a little like Gaius and our Cell Leaders and Team Leaders are a little like Diotrophes and Demetrius. (There is not much new under the sun). Our pastors even write letters (well, emails or FB messages) like 3 John, trying to keep everyone focused on the goal.

Our main goal is to multiply cells (and so, cell leaders). We are so generative (and, to be honest, sometimes so into “being first”) that we come up with a lot of other things to do, as well. We try to encourage such generativity. But the pastors don’t make their main efforts in areas other than flying our two wings: cells and the congregations they form. If someone wants to make something else fly, they will probably get a lot of support, but they will be discouraged from trying to make their passion “first” among us. If they can’t sustain their idea practically, we’ll let it rest and not try to pump it up artificially.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Keep me from moving with what is evil; fill me so I imitate what is good.

Sometimes people make fun of us by saying, “Don’t have a good idea or you’ll be asked to do something about it.” It is a habit of the leaders to resist being assigned tasks by people who aren’t doing many tasks. It is much easier to see what should be done than to do something.

Imitate John and take some initiative today. You don’t have to start a cell or a team, or write a letter or a book to do something good. See who is blindly “being first” and figure out how to steer them away from evil. See who is trying to serve in some way (including leading) and “speak well” of them and to them. It is better if you show up to do that. But write a letter if you must to keep the love flowing until you can get there. Can you get deployed for that — or are you just reading this “3 John?”

Today is Leo Tolstoy Day! Understand more about this great reformer at Celebrating our Transhistorical Body.

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