Jump Start # 2473
John 10:3 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.”
Yesterday in our Jump Start we discussed the Good News of the Gospel. The idea came from a statement from Robert Iger’s book, “The ride of a lifetime.” Iger is the CEO of Disney. The book not only tells his journey and steps in becoming the top at Disney, but it’s also shows us the characteristics of corporate leadership. Leading people, whether as a CEO, a coach, an elder in the church, or a dad at home, has some common basic principles. This is what drew me to this book. It ought to be read by all who are serious about leading others.
We quoted yesterday, and I repeat it again today, from Iger’s book, “No one wants to follow a pessimist.” Let’s put that thought into leading God’s people. It is true that among the qualities or qualifications of being a bishop or elder in God’s church one won’t find “optimism.” Technically, a pessimist could serve as an elder. I have known a few through the years.
The pessimist and the optimist are wired differently. They can see the same thing, be presented with the same idea, and the pessimist is against it from the get go. It’s different. The group has never done that before. And, besides all this, he just doesn’t want to do it, even if it would help the congregation. The pessimist is always worried that trouble is on the horizon. He’s fearful of church splits and error being spread among the brethren. And, what he doesn’t realize is that through his attitude, an atmosphere of negativism and pessimism is filtered through the congregation. People serve out of duty, rather than love. People are afraid to talk to the elders, and if one were to ask “Could we get together,” it is perceived as a trip to the principal’s office. And, after several years of this type of leadership, the joys of salvation and the warmth of fellowship has turned into little more than serving your hitch in the military. It’s just something you do, and nothing more.
And, if what Iger says is true, then with a pessimistic leader, the followers line up out of fear and they really do not want to follow. I understand there are limitations and extreme concerns in bringing corporate ideas into the church, but is it possible a successful businessman recognizes something that we do not? Is it possible that we have stuck with the qualifications and looked at nothing else, such as natural ability to lead others?
Our verse today, from the section of the good Shepherd, shows that Jesus not only knew His sheep by name and called them, but He lead them and the sheep followed. We notice a goodness, kindness and hopefulness about Jesus. We worship, not because of fear or duty, but because it is a wonderful thing to do.
Could it be, within such Biblical qualifications, such as, “manages his own household well,” there is built into that the thought of leading as Jesus would lead. We all have known homes and dads who had problems with this. They shouted more than they showed. They compared the children with each other. They were never pleased. They demanded perfection. They were inconsistent. And, those who came from homes like that, often spent the rest of their lives dealing with insecurity, trying to prove themselves and having to live in the shadows of a more successful brother or sister. To be honest, pessimism was the norm in those homes. And, years later, ‘home for the holidays,’ is hard for some because they know along with the mashed potatoes, there is going to be an extra heaping of guilt, shame and “you never could do anything right.” Yet, brethren will take such a dad and put him in the position of leading God’s people, simply because he happens to meet the qualifications of Timothy and Titus. And, in just a few short years, the spirit of the congregation has turned pessimistic and negative.
I expect some will declare, “You are adding to the qualifications.” But it seems we ought to look at a person’s ability to lead. We wouldn’t want medical advice from a guy who flunked out of medical school. We wouldn’t ask someone who filed bankruptcy this year about good financial planning. We wouldn’t ask an overweight person about diets. Why would we consider someone for a leadership position who can’t lead or the people won’t want to follow?
The devil strives in pessimism. That’s the first conversation he has in the Bible. He told Eve that she couldn’t eat from the trees in the garden. Actually, she could eat from all the trees, except one. You can’t. You won’t make it. You’re no good. Everything is wrong. Nothing is right. All the young people are disrespectful. All the old people complain. All the young marrieds are getting divorced. Problems. Problems. Problems. That’s the spirit of pessimism. It beats one down. It thrives on guilt, fear and shame. Is that the voice that you want to hear over and over?
I’ve known some real gems when it came to pessimistic leaders. You bring a friend, and that friend is grilled with thousands of personal questions. They feel uncomfortable and not surprisingly, they do not come back. A young man tries to serve in public worship. He is criticized from the way he is dressed, to how his hair is combed, to how he stood, to the translation he used. The young man is so paralyzed with guilt that he never again serves. Another one ruined by the pessimist. The song leader gets it all the time. The preacher gets it all the time. I know. I was on the receiving end of the pessimist’s boot for more than a decade.
But, flip all of this around. You put a qualified man into the role of leading the people of God who is compassionate, kind, thoughtful and a real leader. He listens. He smiles. He makes you feel good to be there. He talks to the little ones. He talks to the old ones. He even sits with the teens, once in a while. The people know that they are loved. They trust such a good man. And, an atmosphere builds. It’s hopeful. It’s Biblical. It’s Jesus. People want to be there. People stick around and stick around. Friends come and they keep coming.
We’ve known homes just like this. You can see the love. People jump in and help out, not because they are yelled at, because that doesn’t happen. There is a spirit of team work, unity and joy. It is out of those homes that qualified men make wonderful leaders of God’s people.
Leading is hard. It means knowing where you are going. It means making tough calls. It means putting in the hours. It means sticking to your guns, even if it is going to be hard. It means going out of your way. It means showing others. It means being there. It means listening. It means having a heart that cares.
“No one wants to follow a pessimist.” Maybe it’s time we put some thought to that.