Osama bin Laden Has Been Killed. What Now?

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Last night, President Barack Obama announced that the United States of America had conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the admitted mastermind of the September 11th attacks on the American people, believed by many to be the most evil terrorist in American history.

Late last night, and into the wee hours of the morning, my acquaintances on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites expressed fear, relief, joy, indifference, peace, numbness, and even sadness. One Facebook friend asked “is this the end, or the beginning?” Others questioned whether America, and specifically, President Obama would be safe from retaliatory attacks. Many news programs showed Americans celebrating bin Laden’s death, while others reflected sadly upon the events of September 11th.

Just last week, the southeast experienced an outbreak of tornadoes that, according to the federal government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, killed 346 people (and some reputable news sources are reporting an even higher number) across eight states, which is more than any tornado outbreak in the past 75 years. Last night, President Obama announced bin Laden’s death.

A friend posed the question on Twitter, “what now?” And I began to watch the answers, many from respected church leaders, flood my Twitter feed.

I see this historic event, and the tornado outbreak before it, as yet another opportunity for the elect of God to rise up, unite, and LEAD this nation to God. The body of Christ must keep this event, and all others, in proper perspective. This is NOT the time for Christians to rejoice, nor is it the time for us to just go on with our lives as though nothing is taking place. It is also not the time for us to be afraid or anxious.

We talk so much about “advancing the Kingdom,” but when ripe opportunities present themselves for us to really roll up our sleeves, and do the WORK involved in advancing the Kingdom, we sit back and do nothing. As a Church, as a body, we sit back and do nothing. The social networking sites are full of pastors who are putting out various messages – some calling for 24 hour, round-the-clock prayer, some calling for days of fasting, some organizing services (don’t ask me who the offerings will benefit) and other initiatives, all leading in different directions. But imagine how much more powerful and effective our efforts would be if we were all in the same place, at the same time, with one accord. What if we all – every Christian in this country – fasted in the same manner, with the same spirit, on the same day(s)? What if we all prayed the same thing? What if we all shared the same goal and spoke the same “language”? What if we were all like-minded just this one time?

We, the called, aren’t called to wear titles and robes, open churches and sit in special seats. We are called to do. Called to serve. Called to act. Called to lead. This is the time for us to lead. When communities are plagued by gun violence, as my own home town continues to be, secular organizations shouldn’t take the lead in doing something about it. It should be the Church. When HIV/AIDS becomes an epidemic spreading rampantly through communities, the Church should be taking the lead. When tornadoes destroy entire towns, the Church should be taking the lead. When the high school drop-out rate near 50%, the Church should be taking the lead. It is time for the Church to rise up and act.

What now? So many Christians want to act, but are lacking solid, trustworthy, God-inspired leadership. What we need is a Moses. So many of our Moses-types are busy battling their own insecurities and fears, just as Moses himself did. Today’s leaders face the same concerns. Me, Lord? But they don’t even know my name. Me, Lord? They won’t believe in me. Me, Lord? I’m inadequate – I don’t have the credentials, the backing of a large organization, a national platform, a significant title, an endorsement… Me, Lord? I have the wrong accent, I’m inarticulate, I’m uneducated. Me, Lord? I’m an outcast. Like Moses, the ones most qualified by God to lead this cause are the ones most humbled by the daunting task of uniting a very disjointed body, giving direction to a people who are too self-promoting to take on the role of a follower and not a leader, leading people who are too ego-driven to submit to authority, and embracing the spotlight, subjecting themselves to criticism, complaints, abandonment, and betrayal.

And of course, the best known leaders are preoccupied with lustful desires for money, power, fame, and other unGodly exploits.

So where does this leave us? Shall we continue to operate as disjointed, disunited members of this body, accomplishing little more than burning energy? Or shall we unite and advance the real Kingdom? What say you?

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Monday Morning Manna: Leading by Influence

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Last week, I came across this quote while perusing the internet. I think it might be credited to Russell H. Ewing, but there were so many variations, that it’s hard to tell.

A boss creates fear; a leader creates confidence.
Bossism creates resentment; leadership breeds enthusiasm.
A boss says “I;” a leader says “we.”
A boss knows all; a leader asks questions.
A boss fixes blame; a leader fixes mistakes.
A boss knows how; a leader shows how.
A boss relies on authority; a leader relies on cooperation.
A boss drives; a leader leads.

As a person who has had quite a few titles in church and in my career, this quote spoke volumes to me.  Anyone with a title can be a boss, but it takes a different quality to be a leader.  I went to the Word and came across this Old Testament passage:

And Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among the scouts who had searched the land, rent their clothes, And they said to all the company of Israelites, The land through which we passed as scouts is an exceedingly good land.

If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord, neither fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their defense and the shadow [of protection] is removed from over them, but the Lord is with us. Fear them not.

But all the congregation said to stone [Joshua and Caleb] with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the Tent of Meeting before all the Israelites. — Numbers 14:6-10 AMP

This is a passage from the familiar story in which God told Moses to send a few leaders to scout out Canaan, after promising the land to them. Among the 12 sent was Joshua. At this time, Joshua didn’t really have much clout, so when it turned out that he and Caleb were the only two who thought they’d be able to take the land, nobody paid him any attention. In fact, it was like he and Caleb hadn’t even spoken. The Israelites were so disappointed and frustrated by the majority’s report that, as was typical, they got loud and belligerent.  Joshua tried to help them out and encourage them, but they weren’t hearing him.

The problem, I think, is that although Joshua had status and leadership skills, he had no influence – or at least not enough to gain the support needed to lead the Israelites into the promised land. So one lesson we can learn from this story is that it takes more than a position and title to move people. In order to get things done easily, you need influence. According to best-selling author John Maxwell, the true measure of leadership is influence. The authority a leader has can drive his team members to do what they’ve been asked to do, but it takes influence to inspire them. And inspiration yields enthusiasm, mentorship, a positive work environment, thoroughness, generosity, commitment, and the list goes on and on. Authority can get the job done; but influence makes it easy and pleasant.

So how does one develop influence?

  • A leader who will become influential should have an influential mentor. (Joshua had Moses). Not only does this help you to learn the skills your mentor models, but it also validates you before people who don’t know you well enough to trust your leadership.
  • Position is not enough; you must build a relationship with the people you lead. Joshua was a tribal leader, but that wasn’t enough to help him to influence the others, especially since there were 10 other tribal leaders who opposed him. It’s important to have the trust of the people, and they won’t have much confidence in you if you haven’t demonstrated a track record of solid leadership.
  • Make sound decisions and operate in integrity. Even though Joshua was right, he still couldn’t influence the people to listen to him. That had to be frustrating. Surely you’ve been there (I know I have). But, even when you know you’re right and no one will listen…
  • …You must be consistent and trustworthy. To develop influence, you have to be willing to hang in there and be consistent and reliable, even when no one is following you. This inspires confidence and stability, and as I’ve said before, no one is going to follow a leader in whom they have no confidence.
  • Be sure to use your influence wisely and not to manipulate, take advantage of, or abuse the people who trust you. Joshua used his to lead the Israelites to success.

Leaders may start out with positions, power, authority, and titles, but they never start out with influence. It must be developed and earned. When Joshua returned with his recommendation for taking on Canaan, he couldn’t get one person from the congregation to take heed, even though he was right. What a far cry from what the Israelites said to him later on in Joshua 1:16-18 (MSG):

They answered Joshua: “Everything you commanded us, we’ll do. Wherever you send us, we’ll go. We obeyed Moses to the letter; we’ll also obey you—we just pray that God, your God, will be with you as he was with Moses. Anyone who questions what you say and refuses to obey whatever you command him will be put to death. Strength! Courage!”

Gotta love influence. 🙂

For more on this subject, I recommend Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others, by Jim Dornan and John Maxwell.

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