(1) “START AT THE TOP AND WORK YOUR WAY DOWN. THEY MIGHT SAY NO BUT THEY COULD SAY YES. “
These words guided me when I have looked for a mentor even when it caused me to travel to other countries. These words flow out of Dr Robert Clinton’s first principle of mentoring: It is the mentee’s responsibility to find a mentor. It requires us to live proactively. When we can’t connect directly with the person, we can connect with the person’s resources. When I was living in Los Angeles studying at Fuller Seminary for two years, I would listen every morning on the radio to Pastor Jack Hayford preach a 30 minute sermon. I wanted to be mentored in preaching. One day I met him in person and thanked him for mentoring me ____________________________________________
(2) “A PERSON CANNOT LEAD ANOTHER PERSON UNTIL THEY HAVE LEARNED TO LEAD THEMSELVES.”
This is why the hardest person I will ever have to lead is myself because I cannot expect to lead another person where I haven’t gone. So make self leadership a high priority. Give as much time to your own development as a leader, as you give to the development of those you lead. “Can one blind person lead another. Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.” Luke 6:39-40
(3) “PERSPECTIVE COMES FROM SEEING YOUR PEOPLE AS EMERGING LEADERS RATHER THAN FOLLOWERS”
One of my greatest breakthroughs in my ministry came when I started to see the people in my church through the eyes of Jesus, and not as the world saw them, or indeed as they saw themselves. The world saw Jesus’ disciples as “unschooled ordinary men” (the Greek could more accurately be translated “ungrammatical idiots”) Acts 4:13, but Jesus believed in them and entrusted them with a worldwide commission. To take your ministry to a new level, change your perspective. See the potential in your people as Jesus sees their potential. And address them as such and watch them blossom.
(4) “EVERYONE NEEDS A MYSTERY BOX”
There was a time where I felt I had to have an answer for everything. But a day came when I realised that it was ok to live with mystery and so in my mind I added an extra folder that I called my mystery box. In the process I began to see the word “mystery” appear in my Bible. Marriage is a mystery (Ephesians 5:32). For a long time God’s plans were a mystery (Ephesians 3:1-6). I was even encouraged when a leading international speaker told me he had trouble understanding the book of Revelation. To him it was a book of much mystery. Job lived much of his life in a world of mystery, unaware that he had been the subject of a conversation between the Lord and Satan (Job 1). We all live with mystery. Perhaps the mystery of unanswered prayer, particularly when the sickness of those close to me prevailed, has been a difficult mystery to live with. But I take great comfort in the fact that my God holds all things in His hands (even me) and that He is bigger than all the mysteries I will ever have to live with. With this foundational understanding, like Job, I can live with mystery and face each day knowing that “my Father is always at His work to this very day and I too am working.” (John 5:17) Do you have a mystery box?
(5) “THERE ARE THREE STAGES IN EVERY GREAT WORK OF GOD. (1) IT IS IMPOSSIBLE (2) IT IS DIFFICULT (3) IT IS DONE” Hudson Taylor
I remember a young leader coming into my office one day to tell me he was resigning because his ministry was too hard. I looked him in the eyes and shared with him this Hudson Taylor quote. Then I said, “Look, you are already at stage one, there are only two more stages to go!” The look on his face changed, and he said to me, “Thank you, I never realised that,” and he walked out the room. He was to become one of my best leaders. Remember, it is always too soon to give up.
(6) “AND NOW FOR THE MEETING AFTER THE MEETING”
It is hard to find eight words that can impact a church like these. They relate to the change that can come over a group of people when they transition from the worship service to the after church social gathering over tea and coffee. Too often the impact of the worship service can be lost and replaced by an atmosphere where the conversations are too easily dominated by trivial pursuits. There came a time in my ministry when I felt motivated to say that Jesus doesn’t go home when the church service is over. Rather, He is still at work and we can invite Him into our conversations with one another. Slowly things began to change. After my closing prayer I would announce, “And now for the meeting after the meeting”. Gradually people had their spiritual antennas up and rather than gather in their usual groups they began to care and pray for one another, and look out for the newcomer and those who didn’t find it easy to connect.
As a result of this transformation, people didn’t want to go home so early and the pastoral care was no longer the dominion of the professionals. We were growing into the body of Christ, “joined and held together by every supporting ligament, (which) grows and builds itself up in love, AS EACH PART DOES ITS WORK.” (Ephesians 4:10) All because we became aware that Jesus didn’t go home after the final prayer and that there was a MEETING AFTER THE MEETING. How is your meeting after the meeting?
(7) “I GIVE YOU PERMISSION” It happened in a McDonald’s café in Suva, Fiji where I asked if I could buy 6 tea bags. My motel room where I was staying had a tea making facility but no tea bags. The person behind the counter said that they had tea bags, but she couldn’t sell me any because there was no ‘tea bag’ icon on the point of sale register. I replied, “Why don’t you push the ‘cup of tea’ icon once? Surely that would cover the cost of 6 tea bags.” The sales assistant was half convinced. I then said, “I give you permission to do so”. She suddenly agreed and I walked away with my tea bags. Paul told the Ephesians, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) That to me is a great “I give you permission” scripture and I have always seen my role as one of encouraging countless numbers to step out and live out the great works they have been created to do. And it started in a McDonald’s café in Fiji when I convinced an assistant to sell me 6 tea bags. By the way, “On behalf of the Lord of the church, I give you permission.”