Scared? Oh yes, very scared! That is the question the lifeguard/swimming instructor ask me in 1966 at Benson High School in Omaha Nebraska. She saw me continually going to the back of line for a turn at the deep end of the pool. My mother had passed onto me a complete fear of the water. She never swam, she had a suit for the beach but never got in. She was so afraid of water she only took one bath a week. Seriously! Her perspective of water put fear in my heart. Oh, I learned how to swim, on my own. But there is an uneasy feeling about water even today. Every time I take the boat out, it is there. What could go wrong?
What could go wrong? As executive director of TIME Missions I have this thought its one calculation that must be in our planning equation. I think to myself “what could possibly go wrong in 2023” that might push back on short term missions. Last year TIME had a semi normal financial fiscal year and a wonderful ministry year. As one of the leaders of TIME, I am leaning forward and trying to gain the best perspective I can for 2023. And of course, not being able to calculate or even possibly know all the “somethings that could go wrong.” presents a problem. However, I do know what I think can go right in 2023.
To quote Bobby Clinton “the difference between leaders and followers is perspective. The difference between leaders and effective leaders is better perspective.” A better perspective is challenging to find these days. It takes patience and understanding to gain perspective because a better perspective can be grounded in what we do not know and cannot see. Right now, in our American culture, it would be easy to have a negative attitude about the way our culture is moving. Planning for TIME about 2023 is in fact an exercise in perspective. Let us talk about that: better perspective.
As executive director of TIME, it takes time and energy to gain the best perspective that I can. I must solicit opinions of staff, missionaries, and trustees. This takes time and it slows the decision-making processes. Coming from the owner of an S Corp I am so used to making decisions. Waiting for others tries my patience but, in the end, it is well worth the wait. Even when the waiting is over for budgets, staff targets, last year's trends and all options have been granted and some perspective garnered, you are not done.
There is still a better perspective ahead. There are so many examples, good examples of leaders who have had better perspective because they have faith in God and waited for him to help them have a better understanding of the issues and the challenges ahead. Let us look at one.
When Joshua and Caleb went into the land of Canaan, they saw the giants and the people of Cannan. They realized and saw the challenges from two unique perspectives. Two spies with one opinion in the minority and the exact opposite opinion of the remaining spies. Caleb and Joshua were in the minority because they saw that the land would be given to them through the eyes of God. In contrast and unlike the remaining spies (non-minority) in the insurgent task force assembled by Moses. They saw Cannan through the eyes of fear and a perspective of weakness. Joshua and Caleb knew their weaknesses, but they also knew, and had experienced life found in worship of a great God. See below
“The land we walked through and scouted out is a particularly good land—exceptionally good indeed. If God is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land that flows, as they say, with milk and honey. And He will give it to us. Just do not rebel against God! And do not be afraid of those people. Why, we will have them for lunch! They have no protection and God is on our side. Do not be afraid of them!”
Look above: “A little of bit this and God will do a little bit of that” I call this perspective The Blinder. The Israelites must: See the task at hand, please God, let God lead, do not rebel against God and not be afraid. God, in return will do the following: give the land to them, eat the Canaanite's lunch, break down their protection, be on the side of Israel. Moses, Caleb, and Joshua wore Blinders that cause them to only to see what they do not see, God had the authority, the control and He is with them on this issue.
The remarkable thing about this story is God was pursuing these giant people anyway. God wanted this race of people removed from earth. In Numbers 13:30-33 Caleb talks about giants or the Nephilids or decedents of Anak. Here you have a God perspective, that He will pursue these “sons of god” (Gen 6:1-4) because of the evil race they became. God does pursue these giants until they are wiped out by David. Most of the time good leaders cannot see what God is needing to happen. Better leaders must wait, follow, and trust God.
A better leader knows who they are and is aware enough to calculate and implement plans according to their weaknesses and God’s strengths. Working with The Spirit to do the good works God has laid out for them to do. Eph 2: 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God as Lord of our lives needs to be well understood to have a better perspective on life. As leaders there are three concepts (and many more) but for this letter 3 important concepts of God we must understand, trust in, to gain the best perspective. We must acknowledge God as Lord of all time, matter, space, and breath. In turn we must trust the Lordship of God because he has: 1. Control of all things 2. Authority in all things 3. Presence to be with us always. Each attribute purposes the other two and if all understood, grants a better perspective for leadership and living.
At TIME, my leadership perspective works in cooperation with but is superseded in authority by the Trustee’s, their perspective is superseded by TIME’ s mission statement. Above the mission statement are the intention of the founders of TIME and then at the top, the Lordship of God. Wrap all of that around the missionaries and staff giving vision and doing the work of TIME Missions. As Bill Withers would say: Please swallow your pride, If I have things you need to borrow. Lean on me.
Our founder and still working leader of TIME, Dorretta Brown personifies a better perspective in her role as VP of Spiritual Leadership. Every Tuesday our stateside TIME staff gets on the phone for debriefing and prayer with Dorretta. Dorretta listens to the issues of the day and offers perspective that always comes from and leads to a dependence on God’s control, an acknowledgement that only God is aware of the issue and is here to listen plus, He has the authority to do something about it. Our prayers are chalked full of some the best Theology I have ever heard. A working, coming, and going Theology with a foundation built around Dorretta’s 100 years of allowing God to be absolute Lord of her life and Lord of the ministry of TIME.
Max Depree said the first responsibility of leaders is to define reality. The basal elements of every leadership interaction are the leaders, the followers, and the situation. Leaders are called upon to influence followers towards God’s purposes for followers in specific situations. We become more effective leaders as we develop better perspectives on our situation.
Let us conclude this letter with Rehab. Rehab was woman living in Cannan. A woman of leadership and action. She was well acquainted with her community and loved her family. Rehab gave testimony to the power of God through the stories sang to her and talked about, in how Moses and the God of Israel parted the Red Sea and wiped out their enemy. And how those songs and stories had already prepared and caused the hearts of the Canaanites to melt in fear and awe. The people of Cannan were convinced that the Israels God was the God of the here and now and heaven. The perspective of the two spies in the minority was right.
When we gain a better perspective as leaders, we can recognize that our plans, followers, and situations, will be used in the life shaping of people we are influencing. This allowing and being instructed by the Lordship of God is vital to a better living. Leadership Issues and people situations then form people to become humble and a willing participant in the story of God.
What could go wrong, everything. But nothing that God cannot handle because He Lord of all time, space, matter. God has the authority, the presence and control of all things. Otherwise known as.
THE BEST PERSPECTIVE.