World Impact Chief of Operations and Senior Vice President Romney Ruder shares further reflections on faith-based leadership.
I recently watched a TED talk in which a speaker from the Boston Consulting Group gave her insights on what makes a great leader for the 21st century. She spent a year researching the topic to include visiting corporate libraries as well as presidential. Her aim was to see the link between what made exceptional leaders truly exceptional. She went on to say, though, that her findings reflected that relying on traditional measurements for leadership development will stunt growth. While she observed past leaders, she concluded that to lead in the 21st century, one needed to adapt to new processes. These processes focused on three key points: 1) Anticipating coming changes individually and corporately, 2) building diversity into the leader’s stakeholder network, and 3) having the courage to abandon past practices.
While I do not want to discount her research, I am reminded of the verse from Ecclesiastes 1:9 which says, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." What she is missing is the everlasting value of Steward Leadership. Dr. Stephen Carroll describes "steward leadership" as a sense of personal responsibility. It deals with an accountability of decision making and the way in which these decisions affect the larger organization or those around us. Ultimately, it is a commitment to hold onto our values regardless of the environment we find ourselves in.
Today’s leaders need not focus on what the latest fad is when it comes to leadership development. Instead, they should focus on a historical and biblical model that was reflected by Jesus Christ. Jesus was and remains the full embodiment of steward leadership. Scott Rodin discusses three areas and movements needed to become a steward leader. These movements include discovery, commitment, and accountability. These key areas are shown not only in who Jesus Christ is, but are recognized in His ministry here on earth.
The discovery phase is about a new understanding of the nature and will of God for us as leaders. It pinpoints that we have ownership of nothing. Rather, the positions we find ourselves in is the result of God’s hand directing us there. Jesus recognized this early on in his ministry. When questioned about being in the temple as a youth (Luke 2:49), He indicates that He is there doing His Father’s business. Christ in His humanity was willing to submit to the will of His father. Later, in the desert we see further examples of Jesus’ willingness to enter into the discovery movement. He accepts His role as being a steward of God’s will on His life. In the same way, we need to remember that we are to be stewards of God’s will on our lives. Leaders must recognize that we own nothing and to treat things as so.
Christ was committed to living with a Kingdom mindset. He was not encumbered with worldly successes. Rather, He recognized need to gauge things from an eternal perspective. When He encountered the need for change, He acted upon it regardless of the consequences. All four gospels make reference to Christ’s actions with the moneychangers in the temple. Can you imagine the courage this would take? If we are to be effective servant leaders, we need to work within the confines of Romans 12:1-2 and not conform to the patterns of this world. Although society stresses that as leaders, we should be seeking results, increasing our efficiencies, and adding to the bottom line, we should instead have our eyes focused on the cross. Leaders need to keep in mind Colossians 3:23, that says we need to conduct our work with the remembrance that we are working for the Lord.
The third movement in becoming a steward leader is conducting the journey in the sight of others. Rodin refers to this stage as “accountability”. This is not to indicate that we need others to validate us as leaders. Instead, it means that as steward leaders, we can benefit from engaging others in the work we are doing. Likewise, accountability provides feedback as to how we are doing as leaders. Christ’s ministry was never in a vacuum. He engaged others in the journey. This method allowed him to teach, evangelize and even provide professional development. During periods, he sent out the apostles to help facilitate ministry. Jesus set the example of how accountability is to be used in an effective servant leader model.
To be an effective leader today and in the future, we need only look to the example that transcends all time: that is Jesus Christ. As a steward leader, Jesus exemplifies the foundations of leadership that we should be including in our lives. This holds the same whether it is personal or organizational. When we remember this, it will help set the trajectory for which we will live our lives. Organizationally, it will help to develop the standard of success.
World Impact Chief of Operations Romney Ruder reflects on struggles in and lessons on leadership:
At times, leadership is no fun. There can be a lot of responsibilities, along with the ups and downs of ministry. It is easy to take ourselves too seriously. But God does not desire for us to be burdened with results and consequences. He tells us it is on Him.
It reminds of one of the Progressive Insurance commercials where guy is a little overconfident in life due to how easy it was to get cheap insurance. In the commercial, he is in the crowd, watching a guy juggle chain-saws. With a confident manner, the guy walks up to the juggler as says, “C’mon man, throw them here. I got this”. Unlike the guy in the commercial, the Lord does have our backs. When times get tough and the stress builds, we can take comfort in the Lord saying, “No problem. I got this”.
Yet, I often find myself like Paul in saying that the things I do not want to do I do and the things I do want to do, I don’t. Although we read of God’s assurances time and time again, I still find myself relying on my ways and not His. Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in doing the “Lord’s Work” and can get distracted by the busyness of calling, that I miss the opportunities to seek His will, to spend time in quiet reflection, or be in communion with Him.
Take for instance the value of time and decision making. It is not uncommon for me to contradict what I know to be right, with my own lack of patience in desiring things to be done in the time I want it. I have found myself praying, “Lord, not by thy will but by your will”. But then find myself acting out, “If I do not hear from you though in the next ten minutes, I am going to assume that you want me to go ahead with my will”.
I recognize that it is Christ who is driving this picture. Yet I fail to call on Him in the moment. It is frustrating because I am generally not afraid to ask for assistance, advice, and input when I have team members or leaders around. For some reason, although I remember Christ before I begin and certainly in reflection after I finish, I strive to do a better job of bringing Him into the moment. Just as I would confer on a variety of levels in working through a project or problem, I need to be reaching out to Him.
Whether it be in Proverbs, in the stories of Noah, or in the life of Joshua, God makes clear that His hand is going to be the one that sets the path for us. Even with Moses, He took care of all the heavy lifting. God set the pace; He provided the direction; He carried the map; He gave the words to speak; He guided the battles; He set the laws; He provided the reward. We can take comfort in that it is God’s hand that is leading our organizations. What He wants from us is our presence, our willingness to be vessels for Him to work with/through, and our desire to be in communion with Him while serving Him. Our successes are not due to our own works but His. Likewise, what seems like failures are His as well. To take a line from the great Christian football movie, Facing the Giants, “We need to praise Him when we win and we need to praise Him when we lose.”
In this update, Vice President Romney Ruder reflects on what it means to follow Christ and the significant of His death and resurrection.
Sometimes I wonder if we as Christians do not take the sanctification that has come from Christ’s work on the cross for granted. Don’t get me wrong. I do not think that the atonement is trivialized or taken for granted. I know however, that I am guilty of accepting it at face value. Just as I know that the sun will rise and fall each day, I know that the work of Jesus Christ was a ransom paid for my sins. But it dawned on me this week in my scripture study of how deep this sacrifice was and all that it meant.
I have gotten back into reading through the Bible in a year. Since we are at the beginning of a New Year, naturally I am starting at the beginning. This month, I find myself halfway through Numbers. Up to this point, some might find the reading to be slow and at times, redundant. To recap, we are beyond Genesis and Exodus. God has led His people into the wilderness and starts setting the foundations of what will become Judaism. As you read through the book of Numbers, you begin to get a clear picture of all the rules and regulations that came with being the chosen people. At quick glance, one might think that there was a lot of work that entailed worshipping our Lord. On closer insight though, it paints a detailed portrait of Christ’s saving grace.
The Israelites were faced with many challenges: Did the follow the law? Were they clean or unclean? What season or festival were they in at any given time of the year? Could outsiders be bought into communion with them? In most cases, there were rules designed to answer all of these things. Depending on the circumstances, the answers typically resulted in some sort of ceremony and sacrifice. God though, did not put these requirements on them to be burdensome. Rather, he desired to be in full communion with those He called His own. Such sacrifices and ceremony were needed so that people could be pure enough to be in His presence.
Christ’s eternal sacrifice changed all of this. There were no ceremonies for rooting out adultery. Christ’s took the entire burden on His shoulders. There were no more sacrifices needed for cleanliness. In His death on the cross, Jesus was the unblemished Lamb that took away the sins of the world. People no longer needed to be banished outside the community. Jesus made it clear that all who were weary could find rest with Him. Essentially Christ said that, “All this stuff you were instructed to do before…..toss it all out because all you need is me.”
No more animal or food sacrifice. No more blood thrown and sprinkled. No more burning. No need for ceremonial garb. Most importantly, no need to come to the tabernacle to find communion with God. In one instance, when Jesus Christ indicated that it was finished, He took it all and made it about one thing: Him.
Would you join us in prayer for our cities?
In this update, Matt Penner, urban missionary with World Impact Midwest, shares about how we can join him in prayer for our cities.
In this next year, I will be helping lead and host 3-4 days of prayer. These days of prayer are in combo partnership with TUMI and our Christ the Victor (CTV) church planting movements that we are launching soon here in Wichita. This is the intro letter I wrote for our first day of prayer that happened two weeks ago.
Our next day of prayer will be March 1st, and we would love to invite anybody in the Wichita areas to join us from 7-4 on our campus as we pray for God to move powerfully in our cities.
In this update, Allyson Roe, urban missionary and Newark Christian School teacher, shares with us how we can be praying for her, her students, and Newark Christian School.
Greetings to you all! Below is a picture of Mr. Larson, the principal and librarian of Newark Christian School. The area pictured is the children’s section of the library. Look at the joy on my children’s faces!
Would you please keep Mr. Larson in your prayers?
Mr. Larson leads the school, the teachers, and all too often... the errant children and youth! He leads with a firm but gentle, godly touch. Please pray for him to be filled with the Spirit, with truth, and with grace as he leads our school community in educating the urban youth about Jesus' saving power.
Would you keep Alex in your prayers too?
You may notice in the picture one of my students, Alex, who is in the front with his head cocked to one side. He is blind in one eye and is tilting his head so he can see the pictures of the story being read. He is extremely self-conscious about it and “hates his eye.” His paternal grandparents have been raising him the past three years because of his father’s tragic death. His mother is raising his sisters. Alex is comforted that his father is looking down at him from heaven. His favorite time is waking up in the morning when he sees his grandparents, safe and alive. Please join us as we pray for his time at Newark Christian School, that God would continue to show His love to Alex and grow up into a young man of deep faith!
Finally, would you pray for Melissa?
Would you also pray for Melissa, who is new to school here? She came from a bad school in Newark and has learned to protect herself by effective bullying techniques. The class and I have been forthcoming with our love for her but also about what her actions do to our class. I am grateful and amazed by her progress but she still has a long way to go. She has a sweet heart and is a natural leader. Please join us as we pray for her transition and for God to soften her heart and heal her of her emotional pain.
Thank you for praying with us! Your prayers and support are a vital part of our ministry, as we seek to empower the urban children of Newark and educate them about God's love and purpose for them!