Session 1: As church leaders, sometimes it’s so easy for us to get bogged down in the weeds of just doing ministry week in and week out. It’s amazing how making a small shift in the way we see things can give us a much greater leadership perspective and keep ministry from becoming monotonous.
In 2002, I was 22 years old. My wife, Angie, and I had been married eight months. I was less than a year out of college and working as a registered nurse. An opportunity presented itself and we moved from the BIG city of Alexandria, Louisiana (population less than 50,000) to a little tiny town called Washington, D.C. (metro population many times 50,000). *When we married, Angie made the move to Alexandria from Tullos, Louisiana (population 300). Let me just mention here that my father in-law was not very happy with me when I told him we were moving even further away. LOL.
We didn't have much. We loaded one of those little 10-foot U-Haul trucks with the second-hand furniture family and friends had blessed us with and headed off on an adventure. So, it was we found ourselves living in northern Virginia, the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. We were experiencing some amazing things for a couple of young love birds from Louisiana. We got to see things many may never see. If you’ve never been, you can’t quite comprehend what a treasure trove of museums and historical sites there are in about a 20-mile radius of our nation’s capital.
Those were the days before smart phones and, because we couldn’t afford it, we didn’t even own a camera to capture all those new places and exciting experiences. My stepmom came to the rescue! For Christmas that same year, she bought Angie and I our very first digital camera. It was a 2-megapixel Sony Cyber-Shot. State-of-the-art! Was that a great camera! We were SO excited. We took pictures everywhere.
This was the little home-missions church in Alexandria, Virginia, we moved halfway across the nation to help build. We were having church in a school gym in this picture. We had to setup that entire church EVERY Sunday morning and tear it back down after services were over. (Many of you know what that’s like...and probably, like me, don’t miss having to do that. Or, if you’re just embarking on a similar journey yourself, take hope that it won’t be like this forever.)
We even got to visit the White house. President Bush tried to get us to stay and have dinner with him that evening, but we were tied up with other site-seeing plans. LOL
Does anyone recognize this magnificent building structure? It’s the Capitol. The Capitol in the Nation’s Capital! That little 2-megapixel camera took some good shots. I was flipping back through some of my old pictures the other day just admiring my fancy handiwork, knowing, of course, it was the quality of that 2-megapixel camera that did all the work.
Let’s look at this one a little closer. That picture of the Capitol building is a 2-megapixel picture. Now, let’s zoom in a little:
It’s getting a little rough.
Zoom in one more time and it’s REALLY rough. We can barely even tell there are people in the picture. All these, from that one 2-megapixel camera from the early 2000’s.
Let’s take a look at another picture. It’s a photograph of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain, located in France. This is a REALLY BIG picture. To current date, this is the largest photo in the world ever taken of something on earth. It is a staggering 365-gigapixels! Slightly bigger than my 2 megapixel picture, to say the least.
The facts surrounding this photograph are fascinating to me. A five-member team spent two weeks in late 2014 gathering the data for this picture. They had to piece together over 70,000 photographs, a process which took over 2 months using high-tech equipment to pull this off. If you were to print it out at 300dpi, it would be as large as a football field.
If you zoom wayyyy in on the photo, you can actually see a couple of hikers who just happened to be on the mountain in the center of the frame.
With a 2-megapixel camera, I may be able to get an average view of that mountain, but there’s absolutely no way that I could zoom in 100% to these hikers. It's amazing to be able to see that much detail from that many miles away.
To say this photograph of Mont Blanc is a BIG PICTURE is an understatement, to say the least.
And, here’s my point, in all this talk about cameras and photographs and pixels, and perspective.
As church leaders, it’s so easy to allow the hustle and bustle of life to become paramount. Our vision may get a little skewed – “pixelated” if you will - by life circumstances and the daily grind that is life. Sometimes, it helps to take a few steps back, reset the focus, and see the big picture of life. It does something in us. It allows us to be refreshed and regenerated; it helps us grab hold of a different and clearer perspective.
I want to declare today... and I think most of you would agree with me... as a church leader called by God... I know where to find “big picture” of my life and my life in this world. It does not come from news reports and the media. I will not hear it in the voices of politics and current world events. I will not see it reflected in the face of a famous person. My “big picture” is clearly detailed in a book called The Bible. The Bible gives the details of exactly what I need to know. It tells me what to do. It helps me find my way when I am lost. It gives me a clear perspective when confusion and chaos would take reign in my life. I trust and I believe every word of it, emphatically and without question.
I, personally, have bought into a leadership life that’s full of Jesus. I’m all in. There’s nothing I want more in my life than to please my Lord and Savior! There’s nothing I want more in my life than to be a greater disciple of Christ and to lead others to be greater disciples of Christ.
THAT’s the big picture for my life.
I’m not happy with a pixelated, two-megapixel version of Jesus in my life. I want a clear, 365-gigapixel version of Jesus and His mission. Jesus, the greatest leader in history, not only told us to make disciples; He also gave us a leadership model to follow in our disciple-making efforts. I believe His methods are just as divine as His teachings.
He exampled the perfect fundamental methodology in making disciples and leading others. He chose to create and build relationships grounded in truth and love. It is those relationships and the principles found therein that have sustained His influence and sustained His leadership for centuries.
In Jesus’ leadership, discipleship was always His emphasis; relationships were always His method. Jesus invited twelve guys into His life. He invested in them. Everywhere they went, He invested in them building His relationship with them by teaching and explaining His words and actions to them. He loved them, led them, built relationships with them. He taught them to be disciples; He taught them to make disciples.
The apostle Paul did the exact same thing. Paul didn’t just lead a Sunday school class once a week or just preach a sermon to a large crowd occasionally, Paul focused on leading people - building relationships - helping people grow. Paul led people to their next step – and then helped them take that next step in their relationship with Jesus. THAT is the big picture of leadership.
Consequently, the big picture of my life as a leader is this:
First, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Second, to make disciples of Christ.
Third, to lead others to become greater disciple-makers of Christ.
With this BIG picture in mind, it is imperative we work hard to establish and maintain EFFECTIVE church leadership. I encourage you to evaluate your life by honestly answering this question (I know it is broad, but we’re talking about the big picture here):
What’s the one shift you need to make
in your personal life
to become a greater church leader?
Don’t answer with the first thing that pops in your head and think you’ve finished the process. Make note of that first thing – then see what else may come to mind. Ponder the real – BIG PICTURE – answer to that question. Then, contemplate what action you can take to make the shift starting now.
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