when is building influence necessary for leaders?

when is building influence necessary for leaders?

I was standing in front of a group of parents whom I didn't know too well, leading an informational meeting for high schoolers who were interested in going on a week-long canoe trip in the BWCA.  After I shared an enthusiastic and detailed vision for everything the week would entail, I confidently asked if there were any questions.  I couldn’t fathom there would be any as I had laid out all the details, now it was just time for the kids to sign up!

Well, the questions came and it became more and more obvious that the parents didn’t trust me.  I was dumbfounded.  To my knowledge, I had never been mistrusted in my life. 

Development of an Office

These past few weeks have been so much fun and so busy! :) There are so many things that go into setting up a cross-cultural church planting ministry’s office halfway around the world from where much of the on-ground action takes place.  My time lately has been filled with countless conversations with supportive family and friends, meetings with experts on web design, social media, branding, marketing, support raising, vision casting, and much more.  I have been getting increasingly excited about the true potential for a great impact to be made in Europe through new churches! And then there’s the non-strategic part of life as a missionary. :)  This past weekend was one of those life-filled weekend with lots of quality meetings, and time with friends and family.  Friday night, I got to watch a couple of seriously well fought high school basketball games.  Sunday (I will go back to Saturday in just a bit. :) ) , I got to listen to one of my very good friends, and favorite pastors, preach to a packed out auditorium as she and her husband get ready to plant their church in two weeks.  Then it was catching up with one of my former youth from my Youth Pastor days (yep, she’s all grown up now and considering mission work herself…makes me proud). :)  And then a great cookout in the dead of winter with my family.  That’s just how we roll in Minnesota, it does not matter the weather, cookouts are always an option.

Back to Saturday.  It was filled with a couple of really inspiring meetings, and then dinner with family friends, which included a very poignant conversation that has been in my mind ever since.  These family friends have been neighbors to my parents for years and are immigrants from Kiev (located in the northern part of Ukraine, pretty much in the center of the country).  During a conversation with the wife, we were talking about the church that they go to here in Minnesota.  When I asked how it was different from her church in Kiev, she gave me a look that said, “They don’t even compare.”  Without much of a thought, she immediately said, “our pastor here shows us how the Bible speaks to us.  It’s about God, and us.  In Kiev, they speak in an old language that is not relevant and you can’t understand what they are talking about.  No one understands them.”  What if churches in Kiev, and the rest of Europe for that matter, could be filled with messages that people understand, that helped them know that this life is still about God and us?

This brings me to today.  It’s 7:45am in Minnesota and I just got off the phone with a close friend.  Overnight, her daughter overdosed on her boyfriend’s anti-depressants after the two of them got in a fight.  She’s currently in a drug-induced coma to let her body rest and regain its strength.  Hopelessness.  It’s rampant here in the States and across the pond.  I’m reminded of the 339 people in Europe who take their life daily…  What if every person in the world knew the kind of hope, and life purpose, that can be found in and through knowing God is still relevant today, and is for us, not against us?!

God's Response

Since the beginning, God’s desire has been that we would experience the same kind of life on earth as in heaven, in and through our relationship with God and our relationships with one another.  Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and life to the full.”  He was talking about our lives today, on earth. When Jesus was about to die, He said that it was better for Him to go away so that He could send the Holy Spirit who would live inside of everyone who believed in Him so that they could carry on the work that He started of establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.  2 Corinthians 5:20 says that, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

When Jesus lived on earth, He spent His time giving life to people, helping them connect with God in a personal way, freeing them from hopeless situations, healing them of their diseases and casting out evil spirits.  Jesus spent His life freeing people of everything that kept them from experiencing the fullness of heaven while on earth.  He is the definition of life, of hope.

God’s plan is that the Church would literally continue to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth today just as Jesus did.  Imagine what life might be like if everyone in the world had the opportunity to experience the power of a relevant and real God in their life through life-giving churches worthy of their cities!  This is God's desire.