This is the second installment in a series of posts I’m calling, My Leadership Lane-Assist. I’m applying metaphorically the concept of automotive technology designed to keep you from veering off-course in your practice of leadership.
Those of us who have been leading for a long time develop truisms, axioms, principles that we rely on to keep us and our team members on course — or warn us when we might tend unconsciously to veer off course. I have accumulated my own set of principles that serve as a kind of leadership lane-assist for me.
In my previous post, I discussed the following principle:
Think kingdom rather than organization or job.
And I mentioned that the next post would reveal that the first principle is predicated on a second one. So, here goes:
Kingdom is not a zero-sum game.
You’re familiar with the concept of zero-sum, right? It’s the assumption that any gain must and will inevitably entail an equivalent loss. Applied to your leadership sphere of responsibility, if human and financial resources go to another ministry, that means less for you, right?
Wrong. It is selfish and foolish to think that way — and yet I encounter that reflexive instinct too often in my own heart and in my interactions with other ministry leaders. To think that way amounts to envy. In my book, Servant of All: Reframing Greatness and Leadership Through the Teachings of Jesus, I write this about envy:
May I suggest this simple way to distinguish between godly jealousy and evil envy?:
Jealousy delights in the other person’s favor and desires the other person’s faithfulness.
Envy delights in the other person’s folly and desires the other person’s failure.
God is a jealous God. That is a very good thing. Especially for those of us for whom He is jealous. On the other hand, Solomon the Wise warns, envy is a deadly sin. That is a very bad thing. It rots the bones (Prov 14:30). …I don’t need to tell you that petty envy masquerading as godly zeal is rampant among Christians. Far too many ministries seek to establish their own legitimacy and burnish their own reputations by disparaging others. (p. 50)
My good friend Peter Teague is a model to me in so many ways, including his open-handed and open-hearted attitude toward kingdom resources. Some years ago, at the encouragement of Peter and others, we decided to embark on an unprecedented Association for Biblical Higher Education capital campaign effort. In fact, it was Peter’s faith that inspired us to set a campaign goal five times higher than we originally proposed.
But Peter wasn’t finished. He walked his talk. Despite what many of his peers might have construed as a foolish and naïve gesture, Peter took the initiative to speak personally to one of his institution’s major donors — a godly and extraordinarily generous man who had donated millions to Peter’s institution — introducing him to the work of ABHE and inviting him to expand the horizon of his stewardship beyond individual institutions to an entire movement. The lead gift this man, Henry Weber, made to our campaign was … wait for it … more than the entire amount of our originally proposed campaign goal!
Peter Teague gets it. God’s kingdom is not a zero-sum realm. Generosity begets generosity.
Resources are not diminished by sharing, they are multiplied by the Lord who fed the multitudes and lavished leftovers on dumbfounded disciples who had expressed worry about the scarcity of their financial reserves.Click to tweet
How grievous to Him must be the pettiness with which we cling to our zero-sum thinking.
Just as a car’s lane-assist mechanism vibrates or resists when you begin to veer out of your lane, so the Spirit’s warning should vibrate and resist when your heart begins to display a zero-sum mentality relative to kingdom efforts and resources. In the words of the old gospel chorus from my childhood days, He really does own the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine.
My leadership lane-assist series continues in my next post. Stay tuned!
Fresh gleanings to fuel your leadership awareness, reflection, and conversations …
This book review insightfully illuminates the core contrasts between the Roman Empire’s prevailing promiscuous and socially repressive sexual ethics and that of Judeo-Christian cosmology and sexuality. The author chronicles the unlikely triumph of Christian views of sexuality over those of the Roman Empire by the 6th century A.D. If it happened then, couldn’t it happen again? Caution: the shift took centuries; in the meantime, a lot of people suffered, and I don’t mean just persecuted Christians I mean the victims of sexual exploitation.
ABHE’s 2019 Biblical Higher Education Award recipient, former Tyndale University College President, Brian Stiller, serves as Global ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance. In this recent post, Brian tells the story of how and why the WEA was formed and why it seems to be working for the good of the global evangelical church, nation by nation.