Servant Leadership

For the bulk of my ministry, I have been intrigued with the biblical concept of servant leadership. And if you have paid attention, its tenets have enjoyed resurgence in both organizational and personal development over the past couple of decades. As Christ followers, we should not be surprised; after all, that is the way Jesus lived and led. And it’s the way he clearly encouraged his disciples to follow the lead of his words and actions. Still does.

The book of Acts is an intriguing narrative about the beginnings and establishment of the early Christian church. Referred to as “The Acts of the Apostles”, this sequel to Luke’s gospel is neatly divided into the stories of Peter and Paul and the cast of characters that accompanied them. This first post-gospel biblical entry presents a story line of the unbelievable and the absolutely predictable happenings surrounding the first century church. And it didn’t take them long to arrive at the intersection of practical need and personal response. The answer was the calling of the first deacons.

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A Two Thousand Year Old Conversation

It felt odd but good to sit at our kitchen table right in the middle of a sermon. The “Breakfast With Jesus” theme kind of sent me on a sermonic detour. I do love the image of sitting with Jesus over grits and eggs (I know it was bread and fish, but go with me here) and share meaningful time with him at a real high leverage moment.

I think of all the things that Jesus could have said to them in that moment. “Still don’t get it do you? How many times am I going to have to come back to you? And Peter, I told you you would melt under pressure. We’ve been here before, haven’t we?” But he didn’t. He simply said, “Sit down boys; let’s talk?” I’m pretty sure that came after he asked djeetyet?

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The After Easter Jesus

After conquering the grave, The After Easter Jesus thought it good to stick around this world for an extra forty days. He had spent forty days in the wilderness before starting his movement, so I suppose a matching bookend to complete the narrative was in order. Besides, it would take his crew at least that long to get their arms around a Jesus that doesn’t stay dead or where you put him. These days start with Jesus calling a confused, beloved friend by name. They conclude with the promise that he would always be present, even as he flew back to the heaven from which he came. The telling takes up all of one chapter in John, and bits of another in each gospel. Not a lot of ink as holy writ goes; but there are more than enough encounters and conversations worth leaning in and listening to.

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If there is such a thing as a universal experience, being hurt might top the list. If you live long enough, someone will do something, intentionally or not, that directly causes you great pain, and sometimes forever changes the trajectory of you life. If you think that’s never been you, let me know when you come out of denial. For the rest of us, take a second and think about the wound that most naturally comes to mind.

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Three Great Areas of Ministry

It’s been a few weeks since we have stoked the “These Three Things” fires. But looking at this coming week, it occurs to me that there are great opportunities to hit hard on all three of our emphases in short order. To remind you, the T^3 to the third grid speaks of our heart and commitment to meaningful worship, young families – or not so young families with young children, and loving and serving St. Pete.

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Our Voice

After working well for many years, it seems my early last fall flu shot had a shelf life of slightly less than last week. Bad news is that it was bad; the “have to get better to die” kind of bad. Good news is the virus has run its course. The bad news is that my doc says the accompanying laryngitis can linger up to four weeks. The good news – I only have three weeks to go.

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Prophet, Priest, and King

Sermon preparation is a never-ending, never-stopping endeavor for any local pastor. And yes, I love it. In the trade, we often refer to the “relentless return of the sabbath”; as soon as a sermon is delivered, another one is coming in seven days. I wont say that it has become easier for me with years, but is has become more enjoyable. I have a few ideas why.

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Follow Me

Follow me where I go, what I do, and who I know
Make it part of you to be a part of me
Follow me up and down, all the way, and all around
Take my hand and say you’ll follow me

Good old John Denver could put a conversation in a song with the best of them. Leaving on a Jet Plane, Annie’s Song, I’m Sorry, and Goodbye Again come to mind. But the greatest of these is Follow Me. Why, you say?

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Turning Love Into Action

Take a guess at what all these successful companies have in common.

AFLAC. Container Store. Starbucks. Marriott. Nordstrom. Southwest Airlines. Whole Foods. Synovus Bank. Chick-Fil-A. Zappo’s.

Well, for one thing, except for AFLAC (whose commercials I do love) I have been a frequent, fairly loyal customer of them all. Chances are you have too. Here’s the real binder – all of these organizations unapologetically value, practice and require “servant leadership.” It’s not a coincidence that a culture of humility and self-emptying translates into a company that is wildly popular, and most often, extremely popular. In fact, in CNN Money’s top ten companies to work for, half of them clearly claim servant leadership as not just their personnel strategy, but core company value.

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A Second Invitation

Sunday we will reach the middle of our vision-minded series “These Three Things.” In case you missed it, we began by asking just what we want FBC to be known for in greater St. Petersburg. We have staked a claim on meaningful worship, impacting young adults and families and loving, and serving St. Pete. This trio of noble pursuits is worthy of our or best and most focused efforts. Furthermore, they align well with our gifts and the specific needs of the community where God has placed us.

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