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The “In, Out and Up” Leadership of Jesus

By Kevin Dougherty –

In a recent message at the First Baptist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Pastor Marshall Blalock described for us his vision of a church whose members were engaged in ministries that were directed “in, out, and up.” Looking in, he challenged us to be daily reading the Bible and praying. Looking out, he challenged us to share the Gospel with those around us. Looking up, he challenged us to stretch ourselves and grow in our walk with Christ.

As I pondered Pastor Blalock’s vision for our church, I was struck by the many intersections it had with the leader development work we do with cadets at The Citadel. I increasingly became convinced that the “In, Out, and Up” paradigm also had application for individual leaders. Bob Briner and Ray Pritchard call Jesus Christ “the greatest leader of all time,”[1] and his example certainly reflects the “In, Out, and Up” model.

When leaders look inward they build self-awareness and develop an array of leadership styles, tools, and techniques. It is hard to imagine Jesus having to prepare to be a leader, but the Bible tells us that that is indeed what happened. As he prepared to enter his public ministry, Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature.”[2] He spent time in the temple courts, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.”[3] It was not until Jesus was about thirty years old that he began his public ministry after being baptized by John the Baptist.[4] Briner and Pritchard note that these thirty years were a period of preparation for Jesus as a leader.[5]

After being baptized, Jesus went in to the wilderness where he fasted for forty days and nights.[6] This was a time for Jesus to prepare for his ministry. He was tested by the devil and in each case responded with words from Scripture, reaffirming what Jesus valued and the frame of reference he would use moving forward. After this period of inward reflection and preparation, Jesus was ready to begin his ministry.

When leaders look outward, they develop relationships with those above them, lateral to them, and below them. After his time in the wilderness, Jesus began gathering the Twelve Apostles who would help him with his ministry.[7] Briner and Pritchard note that Jesus did not just passively receive his Apostles. He called them, and he did so with the leader’s maxim to “follow me.”[8] He taught these twelve and his other followers in a variety of ways. Sometimes he taught with sermons such as the Sermon of the Mount.[9] He taught often using parables, such as the Parable of the Sower.[10] Most powerfully, perhaps, he taught be example such as when he washed the disciples feet.[11] Regardless of the form of delivery, Briner and Pritchard attribute Jesus’s success as a leader who teaches as being that he taught with authority.[12] He gave them clear expectations and instructions when he sent out the Apostles.[13] He taught them skills, such as how to pray.[14] He organized them effectively and gave them authority to do certain things.[15] He cared for them, ensuring they had food and rest.[16] Briner and Pritchard note that Jesus modelled the recognition that “those you are leading can only be effective when their needs and the needs of their families are met.”[17] Jesus looked outward and, in the Apostles, recruited and trained a team of loyal followers and fledgling leaders.

When leaders look upward, they create growth in both themselves and others. Jesus was particularly careful to prepare his Apostles to continue the ministry without him. He warned them of possible deceptions and the hardships that lay ahead of them.[18] He explained that after he was gone, the Holy Spirit would come as “another advocate to help you and be with you forever.”[19] He prayed for their protection.[20] He specifically identified Peter as the rock on which he would build his church.[21] “Almost from the moment he called them,” Briner and Pritchard note, Jesus began preparing his disciples that “he would not always be with them. He wisely began to focus quite narrowly on those few who would be most capable of leadership when he was no longer there.”[22] Looking upward, Jesus ensured his followers were equipped to continue without him.

Today, Christianity is the world’s biggest religion, with over two billion followers. This is the result of the leadership of Jesus, both in his earthly and enduring ministries. Looking inward, outward, and upward, Jesus, is the best practical example of leadership in action.

[1] Among the many others who share this opinion are Bob Briner and Ray Pritchard, Leadership Lessons of Jesus, (NY: Gramercy Books, 1998), 1.

[2] Luke 2: 52.

[3] Luke 2: 46.

[4] Luke 3: 23.

[5] Briner and Pritchard, 25. See Matthew 4:18-22.

[6] Matthew 4: 2.

[7] Mark 3:13-19.

[8] Briner and Pritchard, 19.

[9] Matthew 5: 1-12.

[10] Matthew 13:1-9.

[11] John 13: 1-17.

[12] Briner and Pritchard, 25.

[13] Matthew 10-1-15.

[14] Matthew 6: 5-15.

[15] Mark 6:7 and Matthew 10:1-4.

[16] Mark 6:30-33.

[17] Briner and Pritchard, 27.

[18] Matthew 24: 4-35.

[19] John 14:16.

[20] John 17:16-19.

[21] Matthew 16:18.

[22] Briner and Pritchard, 127.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

As 2018 draws to a close, we of course look for the new year of 2019 to quickly arrive.  As that new year arrives, many folks make resolutions.  Some just vow to do differently.  Most of us hope and pray for great days ahead.

This week’s picture is of a heron on the pond behind our house.  I chose this picture for you this week because it was the very first picture I took on my camera in 2018.  The last picture I’ve taken this year is of a Christmas gathering of our family.

The heron stands tall as it closely watches the water for its next meal, anticipating all that is ahead.  He pictures a good new year’s start – taking care of needs, but at the same time, looking ahead in awe as to what will come next.

My last photo for the year, a gathering of many of my family members, does not necessarily represent an end to anything.  Rather, it celebrates all that we have been throughout the year – family, friend, supporter, prayer partner, hero.

As you end a year and begin another, I pray that your visions of what is past are good ones and that you can lean on those precious memories with great fun and admiration for the time shared and the blessings received.  Then, as you look ahead, I pray that you will look to the Lord for the strength to stand tall, no matter what, eagerly anticipating the next blessing, knowing that God will always provide!

Blessings on your 2019!

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Hi all.  Just a thought to help start your week.

Christmas is here, and New Year’s Day is just around the corner.  Are you ready?  Do you have all your planning done?  Are all your ducks in a row?

The birds in my picture are obviously not ducks.  They are sea gulls on the Alabama coast at Orange Beach, but they are definitely all in a row!

When you see a line like that, you might automatically think of words such as ‘organization’, ‘planning’, ‘ready for whatever comes next’.

As you and yours go through the holidays over the next couple of weeks, don’t feel as if everything has to be lined up, perfect, just like ‘everyone expects’ us to be.  Take time to stop, breathe, and remember the true reason for the season itself – Jesus Christ.  In the busy-ness of it all, be sure to “line up” some time to worship the One Whose birth we are celebrating this blessed time of year.

Merry CHRISTmas and a very blessed New Year to all of you!

Just a thought.

Joshua 5 Leadership

By Dr. Kevin Dougherty –

At a recent Men’s Breakfast at the First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina, Pastor Marshall Blalock spoke on the leadership of Joshua. While the general topic is a familiar one, Pastor Blalock focused on one interesting and often overlooked aspect of Joshua’s leadership. This was the report in Joshua Chapter 5 of the circumcision of the Israelites at Gilgal.

Pastor Blalock reminded us of the story: As the Israelites had spent their forty years in the wilderness, the men who had been circumcised in Egypt had all died off and the babies that had been born in the desert had not been circumcised. As a result, the Israelites were not in obedience to the Lord. Joshua knew he had to correct this obedience, but the present moment seemed an inauspicious one. With the Canaanite kings quaking in fear in the wake of the Israelite advance, it would seem that now was the time to strike and take advantage of their enemies’ loss of courage. Instead Joshua forfeited this advantage and paused to circumcise his men and then remain in camp while they healed. As a leader, why would Joshua do this?

In The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner write that leaders who “model the way” take three important steps. To be this kind of leader, you must:

– clarify values by finding your voice

– affirm the shared values of the group

– set the example by aligning actions with shared values (16-17).

At Gilgal, Joshua was a leader who modelled the way by taking these three steps.

Kouzes and Posner explain that before you can influence others, you must know who you are and what your core values are. This is what they call “finding your voice.” In this case, Pastor Blalock told us that what Joshua had come to value was obedience to God. As one of the twelve spies Moses sent to explore the land of Canaan, Joshua (with Caleb) had implored the people to “not rebel against the Lord” (Numbers 14: 9). When they refused, Joshua had experienced the forty years of wandering that God used to punish the Israelites for their disobedience. When Joshua assumed the role of leader from Moses, God had reminded Joshua to “be careful to obey all the law” (Joshua 1: 7). Obedience was the voice Joshua had found and when God commanded him to circumcise the Israelites, he didn’t question it or hesitate. Joshua was clear in his values. He obeyed.

But Kouzes and Posner note that the leader’s values are not the only ones at stake. Because there are other people involved, the leader must affirm the shared values of the group. To do so, Pastor Blalock explained that Joshua drew on God’s covenant of circumcision with Abraham (Genesis 17:10). As descendants of Abraham, the Israelites at Gilgal were part of this same covenant and by it, Joshua secured the shared value of obedience with the group.

Pastor Blalock noted that Joshua not just heard God; he also obeyed God. In so doing, Joshua fulfilled Kouzes and Posner’s call for leaders to “set the example by aligning actions with shared values.” Joshua not only talked the talk. He walked the walk. Joshua himself was already circumcised, and by his leadership, all the Israelites took action and were circumcised as well.

By modeling the way, Joshua facilitated an alignment even greater than the secular version of Kouzes and Posner. By being obedient to the covenant, the Israelites regained the fellowship with God that their disobedience had diminished. God “rolled away the reproach of Egypt” from the people (Joshua 5:9) and they were now prepared to enjoy the blessings He had prepared for them in the Promised Land.

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

This past week, my wife and I spent several days in the quaint little town of Helen, Georgia.  On one cloudy and drizzly morning, we drove north of town and up the mountain where we then hiked nearly a mile up the trail to see the beautiful Anna Ruby Falls that you see here.  They are actually two waterfalls that converge into one at this point.

It was a beautiful sight to see.  Yet, had we not put forth the effort to drive up extremely curvy roads on a mountainside and walk a very steep path (resting along the way!) to get to the top, we would never have seen the majesty of the waterfalls.

Let me remind us this week that we must sometimes make the extra effort in life in order to receive something good from it.  We must take the time and energy to climb the mountain in order to see the view from the top.  We must attempt the climb if we want to behold the majesty.

Draw close to Him.  Climb high this week.  The view is amazing!

Just a thought.

This Weeks Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I’ve written to you many times about trips to one of our favorite places – Washington, D.C.  On one of those adventures, I snapped a picture of this sign near the Capital Building.  It says simply, “Welcome to Washington.”

During this holiday time of the year around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am always so very thankful that my brother and sister and I are all able to go home, as our parents’ children, and spend some time with them.  The older I become, and the more my own children are away from home, I’m very thankful for every moment they get to come visit us.  And, I imagine the vast majority of you understand exactly what I’m talking about.

Imagine for a moment the joy, the excitement, the anticipation, and the love our Father holds in His heart knowing that one day soon, His children will all come home!  Imagine a grand sign welcoming us to Heaven and His presence!  Imagine never having to say goodbye again!

This Christmas season, celebrate the first-coming of our Savior.  But take a moment and celebrate the second-coming that we as children of the King anticipate.  And lest we get too wrapped up in the busy-ness of it all, remember there are still many around us who have yet to become part of this grand and glorious family.  It is our job to invite them.  Won’t you take a moment and do that this week?

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

The holiday season is upon us.  What is it that you want for Christmas?  It might be some material item, or it might be some inanimate object.  It might be a new 98 inch mega large wall-size high definition clear screen changes-the-channels-all-by-itself television.

This simple photo of a friend’s house from a couple of years ago shows the damage and destruction that can come in an instant to our material things.  Storms come and go in many forms.  Thieves break in and steal.  Items are lost or misplaced.  And those once-important things remain just things.

My prayer for each of us this wonderful Christmas season is that we will stop and reflect on what is most important.  Are the children safe?  Will we be together for the holidays?  Are we enjoying relatively good health & happiness?  Those things are treasures indeed.

In this world where material things can and will fade so quickly, be thankful for the “un-material” blessings.  God is so good and gracious to each one of us.  Treasure what truly matters, and share the love of God with those who seem to be missing the point every single day.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

You’ve not heard from me via these “thoughts” in a week or so, and I have a fairly good reason. Among several other things that have been going on in our small little world, our eldest daughter was married this weekend to the love of her life, and we couldn’t be more proud.

This simple little sign was attached to their back window as they drove off the other evening. Just two little words, but they mean so much — “Just Married.” Of course they mean that the couple just got married. But think of it this way — Am I “just” married? Do I “just” do what I have to do and no more? Do I “just” call myself a Christian, or do I live like one?

My wife and I were “just married” nearly three decades ago, but it has been so much more than “just” marriage! There have been ups and downs, laughter and tears, and happiness and sorrow. We are so much more than “just” married. We are in love.

So let me ask you one simple thing this week. Do you “just” call yourself by His name, or are you in love with Him?

“Just” a thought!

Just a thought to help start your week.

We have adjusted our clocks to reflect the time change.  Autumn has officially arrived.  Just look around you at all the beautiful mums in a variety of colors, such as this bright yellow one.

I don’t know why this particular plant is called a ‘mum’.  Perhaps someone looked at one and said, “Mmmmm, that looks pretty,” and the ‘mmmm’ eventually turned into ‘mum’.  Or maybe some kid said, “Hey Mum, I like your pretty flowers!”

Well I doubt either of those scenarios is really true.  But regardless of why this plant is called a mum, may it never be that we Christians are called mum.  We should be quite the opposite – speaking up, speaking out, and making a difference in this world.

There is no time to be mum!  We have an increased urgency to share the Good News with the world around us – a world so dark most days that it desperately needs to see the light.

Enjoy the bright mums this fall season.  But even more so, pledge with me – No more mum!  I have a story to tell!  And folks are truly dying to hear it.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Fall is in the air.  Temperatures are slowly dropping.  Even the warm water in the pond has a mist settled over it because of the cooler air.  The colors of the leaves are changing, and everyone I meet on the street seems to have a new spring in their step, similar to the one they get when winter has finally disappeared and warmer weather arrives.

So, if a change in seasons can be so beautiful, so uplifting, so encouraging, why are we so scared of changes in our lives?

Jobs change.  Families change.  New little ones arrive while others have gone on to leave us behind for a little while.  These changes can be scary, or at least make us uncomfortable, so we dread the changes.

Isaiah 40:8 tells us that “the grass withers and the flowers will fade away, but the Word of our Lord will stand forever.”  While the uncertain ever-changing world spirals all around you this week, hold close to the fact that God’s Word will never change.  When He tells you He loves you, He means yesterday, today, and forever.  When He promises to walk beside you, guide you from ahead, and push you from behind all at the same time, believe it!

God is good.  God is love.  That doesn’t change.  Try to be the one who provides stability in your circle this week.  Folks need to see “no change” for a change!!

Just a thought.