Human Sacrifices…they still happen (A Lesson in leadership)

Image

We would most likely all agree that mission and purpose in ministries as well as organizations are vital to its effectiveness and success.  But is there a trade off to achieving certain goals along the pathway to fulfilling our missions?    Are there casualties along the way?  Do we become so mission focused that we lose, in some way, our compassion and care for individuals which includes team members?  

The old adage “too much of a good thing is probably bad for you” could become true when all that we do, eat, sleep and breathe is our mission.  I am not insinuating that we discard our mission and lose our focus, but sometimes we must check our motivations and ask ourselves some difficult questions in order to realign and correct possible missteps.  

Mission is vital, but so are the people who embody the driving force behind the mission.  Leaders aren’t leaders unless there are people who are willing to follow them.  Whatever system is put in place, without the “fight force” (people) mission cannot be accomplished.  

Are we sacrificing humans?  

Image

Truths: 1.  There will be people who might not catch the vision.  2.  There might be those who dissent and disagree.  
But we, as leaders, must be mindful that we cannot simply continue to plow through our goal steps, chug along on the path that we have plotted without the “team” around us.  If we choose to go this way and disregard those who disagree with us, we may not heed (at times) those who cry out with the voice of reason.  Sometimes we as leaders have to acknowledge that we do not always have all of the right answers.  Pride can enter in, and we may feel as if these decisions (which we have made) cannot be allowed to be discarded for to do so will reveal our inadequacies and/or human short-comings.  

Good leaders should admit when they are wrong.  Good leaders need to listen to the voice(s) of counsel, and in spite of the interpretations of others as the course is corrected; change that course.  

Misguided (I wouldn’t use the term ‘bad’) leaders refuse to admit wrong doing.  Misguided leaders only listen to the counsel of the ‘yes’ people and punish those who voice and/or question their authority.  

Human sacrifices are still being made in organizations when mission and purpose moves at a pace which is faster than the followers can run.  Mission is important, but without those who can carry out the mission, any attempt for success will be futile.  

3 Preventive Steps:

 

Image

1. Genuine Compassion: 
In order to have followers, leaders must go to them.  Leaders need to understand how their followers live, think and also what they are (and aren’t) capable of.  Compassion goes a long way to ensuring the success of any mission plans.  When we stop and care for the needs of those we lead we inevitably open the doors to not only obedience but healthy loyalty and love.  Compassion oils the cogs of motivation and loyalty.  

2. Listen

Image

I have found myself guilty of this one.  I have plotted certain paths of mission and neglected to actually listen to those with whom I was given the charge to lead.  Good leaders understand the great importance of active listening.  When they gather their followers they not only engage in productive planning but also engage in active listening.  These moments of active listening (it is ongoing) include concerns, desires, skills, and dreams.  Once leaders listen, certain plans along the way of mission may need to be altered in order to further strengthen the foundation of the “team”.  These aren’t necessarily always concessions but perhaps better solutions and alternatives which will help the group to arrive at the completion of goals within the mission.  

3. Motivate

Image


It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men. Men respond to leadership in a most remarkable way and once you have won his heart, he will follow you anywhere.”  -Vince Lombardi
</strong/>
Good leaders understand how to lovingly challenge people, how to push them but not sacrifice them to the mission.  What is in the hearts of those you lead?  How can you motivate them to accept the mission and embrace the pathway towards achieving that mission?  Motivation can be challenging because all people are different, but when we are actively engaged in listening to those we lead we will find the means to appropriately motivate them.  These motivations shouldn't be seen as punishments or a negative thing either.  Positive reinforcement, encouragement and guidance is crucial when challenging those you lead.  Find the appropriate source(s) of motivation for your team and embark on helping them see how capable and valued they truly are.  Don't neglect this step because the members of your team need your motivation to achieve the goals you are setting out to accomplish.  

Caution & Completion:
If you find yourself leading only to turn around and find no one is following then perhaps you’ve sacrificed the humans on the altars of mission.  Beware of the dangers of leadership.  Leadership carries both a burden and a blessing if used correctly.  The burden being people are seen as people, not just another number or group to lead.  Compassion is vital; active listening is crucial and motivation is paramount to walking across the finish line with those you began it with.  Don’t sacrifice the humans for the mission…we need each other and we cannot accomplish anything without every component and every person.

 

***Disclaimer, leaders carry a tremendous burden and those who follow must also try to recognize where leadership is coming from and as the old phrase says “the door swings both ways”.  Much of what has been written here should also be applied in reverse.  Those who follow should carefully consider their motivations and consider what may be best for all concerned.  Mission cannot be accomplished unless both leader and follower can work together. ***

-Just something else to ponder today.   

I Surrender All?

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.” ― Augustine of HippoConfessions

Image

Why does it still happen to us, who call ourselves Christ-followers?  Why do we shy away from this disciplined, more refined lifestyle?  God is calling us to something deeper, something far better than what we experiencing in the here and now.  Why do we fight it?  Could it be that we have something more to surrender?  Could it be that we have held back a part of us from Him?  

God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  He did what?  It’s true.  God told Abraham to take Isaac up into the mountains, build an altar and shed his only son’s blood as an offering and as a sign of allegiance to the Almighty.  Scripture doesn’t say that Abraham refused, yet I struggle with this passage.  How could a father follow through with a request like this?  Abraham doesn’t refuse and he does what God asks of him, he goes up into the mountains and takes his son with him.  Everything is premeditated, including the murder weapon.  Yet I know that Abraham must have dreaded what was to come.  He must have mourned and waged within himself over this request from God.  Isaac’s name means “He laughs” and that is certainly what Abraham and Sarah did when they received the news that they would have a son.  After all, Abraham was nearly a  hundred years old when they received this divine news.  But Isaac’s name meant much more then their initial response.  He would bring joy into their lives.  They would laugh until tears ran from their eyes!  He was their answer to so many years of barrenness and familial emptiness.   Isaac was Abraham and Sarah’s pride and joy…even to the point of replacing God.  

We do this sometimes.  People and even things have a tendency of replacing God as top priority in our lives.  We don’t intentionally run from God, but little by little we find ourselves unwilling to surrender everything before Him.  This is a very real danger in our ministries and in our spiritual journey and Christ-followers!  We utter the chorus “I surrender all” with our lips and yet in our hearts we’re holding onto something that needs to sacrificed at the altar of self!  

Abraham didn’t hold back.  He was obedient to God.  Perhaps he understood the message that God was trying to send to him way before he held the sharp blade over his bound son on that stone altar.  He certainly displayed his obedience in his response to Isaac’s questions about where the lamb was going come from when Abraham replied, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”  (Genesis 22:8)  Though Isaac had become his pride and joy, and perhaps, for a time replaced God on his priority list, Abraham had faith!  His faith was indeed rewarded when an Angel appeared and stopped him from completing costly sacrifice. The angel said, ““Do not lay a hand on the boy,…Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:12)  

If, today, we find ourselves far away from God because we have run may we return to Him!  If, today, we find that we have placed others of things before God may we be willing to lay them all at His feet in total surrender.  God is faithful and longs for us to return to Him!  He also longs to make us holy people, the very image of Christ for all the world to see.  But that image cannot remain on us if we are unwilling to surrender everything and return to Him!  

Prayer: 

Lord in my returning, make me holy.

Lord in my renewal, send the fire! 

May my life and heart be ever for you

restore me from sin-sick muck and mire!