Strength and Renewal - Jordan King
One of the many joys of ministry is the privilege of walking with others as they experience who God is and grow in reliance and trust in Him. One of the roles I have here in Wichita is working with urban pastors who have planted churches in poor urban areas. These pastors face difficulties in ministry that would cause many pastors to give up and quit. They face people who are broken in so many different ways; yet they are responsible for shepherding them with love and grace. Their churches are often in storefronts or houses, and they are chronically under-resourced. They work in areas where leadership in the church often needs to be built from the ground up.
Sometimes it can seem like planting churches in poor urban areas does not make much sense. It would be simpler to plant churches in suburban areas where the ground is easier to plow and resources are more plentiful. Yet, God has called us and those we partner with to go to people who are forgotten and who live without the hope of Christ. Inner-city ministry has taught us that we need God's hand to guide us and lead us. He is the one who softens hearts and makes what is impossible possible.
I had the privilege of sharing a weekend with some of these pastors. The goal of the weekend was to support and encourage these urban pastors and their wives. Many of them were tired and feeling the heavy weight of shepherding incredibly broken people on a daily basis. It was amazing to see God renewing and refreshing tired hearts and weary hands. One pastor who we know well was on the edge of burning out. He was working on a new building and mentoring leaders in the church while also working a full time job. He and his wife were overextended and their family was struggling. But that weekend, they fellowshipped with other pastors and leaders and were poured into by others during the worship and teaching times.
We are always in prayer for these pastors and their ministries. We pray that God will continue to raise up leaders in these churches to ease the burden and that we will find ways to support and encourage them and their families. We also pray for indigenous pastors who have a heart for the urban poor. We are so excited for what God is doing here in our ministry and we want to see His Kingdom come here in the city.
Jordan King is a missionary with World Impact Wichita, where he lives and serves with his wife Kathryn and their two boys.
Humble Leadership - Romney Ruder
Thursday is garbage day where I live and it took the simple act of a garbage pick-up to restore my faith in honesty and leadership development here in America. As you may know, Wichita, Kansas, has the tendency to be windy. This can make garbage pick-up difficult (even with the automated trucks) as wind gusts blow garbage out of the trash receptacle and miss the truck.
Today happened to be one of those windy days. The trash hauler reached out with his automated hand and grabbed our can. But in the process of dumping it, sheets of paper fell out and began to blow down the street. From my hidden view, I could see the young man contemplate what to do next. I am sure there are efficiencies that are expected of trash haulers. The metrics most likely indicate that "so many" houses need to be hit every hour. This gentleman did not have the time to get out of his truck and retrieve the blowing debris. Yet at the same time, I could instantly see the pride of doing his job well flicker across his face.
In the end, job perfection won out. He quickly removed himself from his truck, grabbed the blowing paper and disposed of it without skipping a beat. I know that it seems simple, however this young man's decision set a positive tone for my morning. He could have easily watched the paper blow throughout the neighborhood. With the winds around here, it would not have taken long for the evidence to blow out of sight. He made the right decision even though he did not know anybody was watching. In this moment, he was able to quickly provide some insight into his character and leadership ability, while representing the values of the organization and building its brand.
Many of today's leaders should take notice of this worker's decision to do the right thing. Lately both international leaders (President of the IMF) and national leaders (Governors of Virginia and Oregon) have been dealing with criminal issues. Journalist Bill O'Reilly of Fox News fought off questions regarding his honesty. This came on the heels of an NBC News anchor, Brian Williams, being dismissed for dishonest reporting. Unfortunately, the honesty question has not just affected news leaders. Recently, our Secretary of Defense was on the defensive answering questions regarding misstated service in the military.
For some reason, we have etched into our culture that leadership should lead to a life of entitlement. In some of these cases, these leaders are perceived to have it all, yet they take steps to grab more. For some, it is additional power, more money, or larger influence. For others, it is added fame, more limelight or increased significance. Yet Jesus makes clear in the Bible, "If you want to be a great leader, you need to be willing to be last" (Matthew 20:26 paraphrased). To be a leader means to take on increased responsibility; for oneself or others. It is not about getting more. In fact, the focus should be on putting others before you. These points seem to be missed in our development of new leaders.
What became abundantly clear to me today is that I do not need to rely upon the high profile or famous to set an example for how a leader should be. There are those in less popular positions that exude positive leadership traits. Luckily for me it came to me in the form of our local trash hauler.
Romney Ruder is World Impact's Senior Vice President and COO.
Goals and Fear - Lisa Entz
Twenty-seven years ago I took a weekend to think about and write down some life goals. I broke them down to ten-year goals, five-year, one-year, and finally down to weekly and daily goals. I committed to pray over these goals every month.
I cannot find my old notebook that contains these goals, but I am sure it is tucked away somewhere safe, keeping company with other semi-precious items I have not seen for years. Fortunately, before I misplaced my notebook, I had about twelve years of incorporating most of those goals into my daily routine. The reason I do many of the things I do today can be traced back to those original goals and the action steps I put in place.
My new role within our organization requires me to plot out my goals for the next twelve months. I map out the goals for my area of ministry as well as my own spiritual and personal goals (albeit not too personal). My first reaction was a bit of fear. The failures and successes of goals are measurable and that can be a bit scary. However, something about goals being measurable is also a huge motivator for me. I played sports in college and actually coached volleyball for about four years, and an important factor in bettering your game is fine-tuning your skills. It is hard to fine-tune your athletic ability without aiming at some goal and implementing routines that move you toward your goal. And I tend to believe that what works in sports works in other areas of life (most of the time).
I am not intimidated by making goals, but I can get fearful that my goals are not enough. I can worry that I might be clueless as to how to reach my own or our ministry goals. I can fear being evaluated and that I might come up short. I have to take a minute and figure out where these "fears" originate.
Change is difficult and can make me feel insecure. New programs and systems seem can make me feel replaceable. But goals are not to be feared. Goals can be gifts we can dream and strategize about. With a changing organization like World Impact, we can be skeptical about everything new. Everything that lives undergoes constant change. I am choosing to embrace new ideas and systems in the hope that I will grow in the process. I am choosing to trust the Lord through my leaders, something that should not be new to any of us who are a part of a missions organization!
Lisa Entz is World Impact's Co-Director of Team Care and Development.