Friday, July 29, 2011

Motivating Factors

I recently read an article: Motivating Factors for Ministry, by Christian leadership professor Dr. Bobby Clinton. He asks: "What motivates you in ministry?" and lists nine factors. Yet it is interesting to note that my own most crucial motivating factors are not on the list -- not even at the bottom of it. I'd put this down to typical differences between Global North and South. For instance, near the top of my list would be -- to put it very simply -- God's faithfulness. Related to this, there is little if anything in Dr. Clinton's (750-word) list to suggest that God does anything but work in me, in my ministry. Here are the nine motivating factors for ministry that Dr. Bobby Clinton identifies: ♦ finishing well ♦ the return of Christ ♦ one's giftedness ♦ confidence in the power of the gospel ♦ a burden to minister ♦ the resurrection ♦ handling God's Word for impact ♦ the perspective of eternity, and ♦ love for Christ. That's in his book Titus: Apostolic Leadership (much expanded there).

"Live And Let Live" Theology

In a recent class debate, a fellow postgraduate student commented: "Thomas, your live and let live theology from below is a fresh and empowering approach that could have transformational impact in the lives of believers. ... Can you elaborate on how this works in your Church? Does a member get to write his or her own creed for their own life? Are they free to interpret Scripture situationally without regard to exegetical integrity or a commonly upheld hermeneutical understanding? Does this happen by a committee of the priesthood of believers?" OBSERVATION: These aren't easy questions, and I won't try to answer them here. What I said was basically the following: that our Church's (vernacular) theology is enriched and shaped by diverse spiritual input, or ministry by members -- however, one needs to take certain risks in order to do that, and some Churches won't entertain it. We sometimes need to wink an eye at what we hear. I do agree that our approach is "fresh and empowering".

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Psychologically Regressive"

At a recent theological forum I encountered something I have frequently encountered in recent theology, and it disturbs me. In the debate, alternative theological viewpoints were characterised, dozens of times, as being "regressive" or "psychologically regressive". Similarly, in my postgraduate studies, free Church tenets have been described as "dangerous", faith-based leadership as "irresponsible", and so on. OBSERVATION: Personally, I don't think such language belongs in theological debate, even if it is backed up with charts and graphs.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lessons From Nehemiah

I completed draft work for a group study of Nehemiah tonight. Typically, in Christian leadership studies, Nehemiah is presented as a man of character. Ted Engstrom epitomises this approach: “We see how great he was." Yet what I have discovered through the study is that the breakthroughs of Nehemiah's leadership are routinely preceded by an appeal to the acts of God. For instance, he informs the citizens of Jerusalem "of the hand of God which was good on me". It is then that the people respond: "Let us rise up and build." Or when faced with their first major adversity, Nehemiah proclaims: "The God of heaven, He will prosper us." It is then that "Eliashab the high priest rose up." OBSERVATION: In my own ministry, I continually seek to reveal what God is doing. There are important parallels to this dynamic in the Bible, e.g. Moses and Aaron (Exod 4:31) and Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:12).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Leadership Not About Leadership

I wrote to my US leadership professor today that Christian leadership in Africa may, in an important sense, not be about leadership. To put this in other words, a Westerner may not recognise African leadership training by looking at the curriculum or the textbooks. US leadership training typically focuses on the leader, while African leadership training often focuses on aspects of leadership thought to be more central than the leader himself / herself: the Holy Spirit, homiletics, prayer, the task at hand, and so on.