Investing in those you supervise

(Guest blog by Dr. Robert E. Logan)

One of the most important characteristics of great leaders is a focus on people development over task accomplishment. It’s more important to develop those God has entrusted to our care to the fullest extent possible. That’s true even when it doesn’t line up with what you need to get done today. The goal is an others-centered focus rather than a self-centered focus. Investing in those you supervise will reap great rewards.

Think of a staff-person you are supervising, set aside an hour, and try asking them these questions about their job development and growth:

  • What accomplishments have been most satisfying since last time we met?
  • How did you use your strengths to make a difference?
  • How have you grown in your skills?
  • What priority issues need to be addressed?
  • How do you want to grow in your leadership?
  • What new challenges would you enjoy?
  • What are your goals between now and next time we meet?
  • How can I be helpful to you in your development?

You may not like the answers you get. They may not align with your to-do list. But when you step back, what is the person telling you about where God is calling them and what he might want to do? God’s agenda may very well be different from your own.

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(Dr. Robert E. Logan has over 40 years of ministry experience, including church planting, pastoring, consulting, coaching, and speaking. Having seen a great deal, Bob remains on the cutting edge of ministry through hands-on missional involvement. Bob earned his DMin from Fuller Theological Seminary. He counts it a privilege to walk alongside ministry leaders and help catalyze their ministries toward fulfilling the call God has placed on them, and he thrives in developing holistic and transformative resources that can easily be implemented in any context. Bob enjoys cycling and volunteering in a recovery community.)

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Why is a burden a burden? (One Thing)

Jesus said, “my burden is light.” From our perspective, a burden is a burden. It’s something too heavy to bear. Or,  we can say that when something crosses the threshold of our comfort zone, it becomes a burden.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30).

Regarding this, Jesus said, “learn from me.” What can we learn from Jesus’ life about carrying a “light” burden? It is obvious that Jesus was more concerned about doing his Father’s will than anything else. He respected his family, but his heavenly Father’s desire came first.

At the home of Martha and Mary, Jesus says to Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary…” For Jesus, that “one thing” was listening to the words of Jesus (Luke 10:41).

Your burden will be much lighter when only “one thing” is on your shoulders rather than all the expectations of everyone around you.

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Laughter – It’s a God thing

Ever felt like you’re constantly under defeat? As if you can’t ever get it right? That feeling of defeat can permeate every aspect of your being. It becomes your perspective on everything you do throughout the day.

But God has a perspective of laughter. When enemies rise up against him, and their taunts increase beyond measure, God laughs. He laughs because he knows their taunting is worthless before his might (Ps 2:4).

Unfortunately, we cower in fear and defeat. The sight of our enemies brings trembling to our bones. But we forget that we are children of the God who laughs. He invites us to laugh along with him as he sees our enemies and those fearful situations (Ps 2:7-9).

The problems may remain the same, but your perspective changes. It changes to a perspective of laughter.

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Investing in people unwilling to change

I’ve done it with hopes that they will change…one day…eventually. But they never did. I figured I must have done something wrong. After all, my job is to change people right?

That’s where I went wrong. I misunderstood my role. I was taking on the role of the Holy Spirit to change people. I did my best to change them. Then I also realized that they were unwilling to change. That was two strikes against me.

The Holy Spirit can do a much better job. He tests and searches the hearts of people to know what is within. He knows who is willing or unwilling to change. He also knows what it takes to change them.

Before you invest your time into changing someone, try to confirm if this is really your task. Are you the best one to perform this very important task? Maybe, the Holy Spirit can do the best job with this.

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Between them and God

But I want to help. I’ve been trying hard to point them to God. They need to keep their eyes on Jesus rather than on their problems. But they don’t seem to respond to my promptings.

No need for alarm. It really is between them and God. Like street signs, make sure that your message is clear, understandable, and visible. Then, it’s the choice of the travelers. They need to make up their own minds regarding what they should do to obey.

There is no amount of coaxing that will get them on track toward Jesus. Even if they seem to respond to your repetitive promptings, it may be short lived because their heart is set elsewhere.

Really, it’s between them and God. Let both of them work it out.

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Day and night

It grabs you. It takes over every waking moment of the day. There is no activity that eludes it. You are completely captured and mesmerized by it.

When you truly fall in love with God, his words become your delight and your meditation. His voice rings in your ears day and night (Ps 1:2).

Even the night fills your mind with God’s voice. His words spoken to you fills your thoughts. It captivates you so much that even your dreams are full of thoughts of his voice.

How can you be so deeply mesmerized by his voice? It seems to fill your heart day and night. Some might think it’s too much, but it’s not. It’s a delight. Not a burdensome bondage but a deep sense of delight. All day and all night, his voice and his words fill every part of your being.

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Differences, discomfort, suspicion

Differences often lead to discomfort. Discomfort may lead to suspicion. Thus your colleague becomes your enemy. A partnership turns into a cold war or an outright battle.

But if we learn to value differences in perspective, we may end up on a better trajectory. Just make sure you’re headed in the same direction (vision). Link to mission, vision, goals

Differences in perspective can lead to more depth in what you produce. It will produce a better and fulfilling end result. Avoid the narrow perspective of seeing things only your own way.

Build a team. Value differences. Develop a culture of mutual respect and accountability. Share the profits and losses.

Differences may lead to discomfort. But discomfort doesn’t have to lead to suspicion.

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So it was God all along

In your suffering, you may reach out to many people for support. And that’s natural and healthy. But they all have their limitations. As your suffering prolongs, they will each slip away one by one. It’s only logical. They have a life to live. They can’t be with you always. They’ll be back when things eventually get back to normal.

“And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold” (Job 42:10-11).

That’s when you realize that it was God all along who sustained you. Your friends, family, relatives, neighbors, and all your acquaintances may step away during your troubles. No one else can lead you through the darkest moments of your life. He sustains you. He carries you. But when you finally come through, he’ll bring you to a new level. Much beyond wealth, Job got to a different level of relationship with God. Yes, it was God all along!

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Small groups, big value

Many resist it. There are so many who don’t think it’s of any value. In fact, in most churches that attempt to conduct some form of small groups, they have less than 50% of their Sunday attendance in small groups.

It seems we underestimate the value of small things. Somehow we think that bigger is always better. But this does not have to be so.

Here are some benefits of involvement in small groups:

+ Relationships: Caring and mutually beneficial relationships are built.

+ Discipleship: We get to help each other grow in obedience to Jesus as his disciples.

+ Evangelism: You get to work together as a team to share the Good News of forgiveness from sin through Jesus.

Don’t ignore small groups. They are of great value.

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Seeing God through pain

No, we don’t like it, but pain is a reality. But extreme pain and deep sorrow can be an entirely different matter. We all may go through such times at some point in our lives.

Some may become angry and bitter. Others become confused and withdraw from everyone just to cope with this terrible disaster. Others see God.

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).

Job’s words seem to indicate a deeper and more personal relationship with God. His tragedy has also brought about a clear sense of repentance as well. His repentance is also dependant on the idea that he now sees God with his eyes.

For those who suffer in humility, God has a plan. He leads them to a deeper relationship and repentance.

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