Bible

Dimensions of Christian Leadership

  • 30 September 2017
  • Randy Wollf

Giza pyramids

I love building capacity in seasoned and emerging Christian leaders. As I do this, I find it helpful to focus my energies on seven key dimensions of leadership (see the Christian Leadership Pyramid below). I often ask myself how I'm personally growing in each of these areas and how I can help others grow in these dimensions as well. Here is how each dimension builds upon the other:  

Biblical Truth   

Biblical truth must guide every aspect of our leadership. It is imperative that we increasingly live and lead in keeping with a thoroughly biblical worldview. This comes as we grow in our ability to meditate on God's Word continuously[1], to handle it accurately[2], and to be a courageous practitioner of the Word[3].

A Growing Relationship with God

The desired foundation of Christian leadership is a growing relationship with God. The Christian leader must continue to live in Christ, rooted and built up in him[4]. As we abide in Christ, he will bear fruit through us[5]. I find that the practice of spiritual disciplines, when done in a meaningful way, rallies me to God and His plans for my life. One of the most useful tools I have found for establishing and growing these disciplines is the Rule of Life. A Rule of Life is an intentional plan to deepen one's relationship with God and to position oneself to love and serve others more effectively. Similar to what Peter Scazzero says in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality [6], I am learning that one's Rule of Life should encompass all of life. This would include practicing traditional spiritual disciplines such as prayer and listening to God through His Word, but also cultivating healthy relationships, fostering emotional health, and taking care of my body (among others).

Character

Character is the second layer of the leadership pyramid. As we increasingly submit ourselves to Christ's Lordship and experience an ongoing filling of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to imitate God and follow Jesus' example of love[7]. Scripture describes many admirable character qualities such as the fruit of the Spirit[8], being wise[9], holy[10], just[11], humble[12], and courageous[13]. Growth in these kinds of qualities greatly enhances our ability to reflect Christ and lead in God-honouring ways. I believe we will acquire these traits in increasing measure as we surrender ourselves to God, deal with sin in our lives, associate with godly people, leverage Scripture to bring about necessary change, allow trials to shape our character, and expose ourselves to opportunities that foster growth in desired areas.

Calling

Seven Ways to Make Scripture Come Alive

  • 13 January 2017
  • Randy Wollf

Sunflower reaching upConfession time: I don’t always enjoy reading Scripture. Sometimes, it’s routine, even boring. Yet, I’ve also experienced incredible “Aha!” moments as God has spoken wisdom into my life. God’s Word has often encouraged me to carry on, even in the face of a big challenge. 

I’ve discovered that the times Scripture impacts me the most is when I actually engage with what God is saying―to meditate on His words. 

I’d like to offer seven ways for engaging Scripture that I have found life-changing.

Pray Through Scripture

I am currently using a Bible reading app on my phone to read through the Bible in 18 months. I like this approach, but sometimes find that I’m just reading to get it done. What has helped is to purposefully pray through the passages as I read them. For example, when reading Psalm 46, I can praise God that He is my refuge and strength. I may find myself confessing those times when I have tried to find safety outside of God. Depending on what I’m going through, I may respond to this passage by committing challenges to the Lord that need His strong helping hand. Praying through Scripture is a way to engage in a conversation with God about what He is showing me. It makes Scripture real and personal.

Journal in Response to Scripture

Journaling is another great way of engaging with Scripture. When I went through the two-year Navigator 2:7 Bible Study Series, we had to journal about our Bible reading each day. The approach was simple. We recorded a key idea and then applied it to our lives. Many have found that life journaling is a great way of getting into the heart of Scripture. One of the great benefits of journaling is that you can trace themes that God might be emphasizing in your life.

Memorize Scripture

Preaching Step 2: Pick One Point

  • 30 September 2016
  • Keith Reed

choose oneIn my last blog, I explained the three approaches of communicating the Bible that Andy Stanley outlines in his book, Communicating for a Change. Instead of teaching the Bible to people or teaching people the Bible, Stanley is an advocate of teaching people how to live a life that reflects the values, principles, and truths of the Bible.

This objective will change how you develop your message because your goal is no longer transferring information but helping people reach a destination (Stanley compares a speaker and their audience with a truck driver taking passengers on a ride). The journey is valuable, but its main purpose to guide listeners to the final destination that a speaker has in mind. The fastest (and often easiest) way to get from one point to another is a straight line. So instead of crafting multiple points and driving people through a series of S-curves, Stanley urges speakers to pick one point and stick with it.

All of us have sat and listened to speakers who crammed too many messages into a single talk. It’s hard to follow in the moment and it’s nearly impossible to remember days later. But what’s worse is that messages like these rarely change our lives.

The messages that have stuck with me the longest are ones that were simple and action-oriented. The point was clear and the application was specific. If you don’t have a central point that you can repeat multiple times, you won’t have a message that will stick with your listeners. Your point doesn’t need to rhyme, but it should be short and memorable. Here are some examples that I've used in past sermons:

  • A hardened heart is slow to listen.
  • Giants aren’t always what they seem.
  • What God has joined together should stay together.
  • No excuse is a valid excuse for disobeying. 

It takes me a while to craft a finely-tuned point, but this short phrase is what ultimately defines my roadmap. I typically don’t establish my point until I’m at least halfway through my preparation. This means that I already have several pages of scripted content and ideas that I’m sifting through. My point helps me determine what to keep and what to delete. It can be frustrating to cut good content that I’ve already spent hours developing, but in the end, I believe this makes my message stronger.

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