By Amy Kellogg, LLI Participant
When I returned from my summer in Croatia, trying to process all that had happened felt like swimming through the thick honey I grew accustomed to spreading on fresh bread in the mornings.
The two months and the memories that they carried had blurred themselves together in my mind. They left me feeling disoriented and in need of some time to think, pray, and sit in silence. After processing with many patient friends and mentors, I came to the conclusion that the Leadership Lab International (LLI) program was one of the hardest yet the most rewarding things that I have ever done.
Being part of LLI in Croatia pushed me to put some immaturity to death, and realize that I still have so much left. One of the ways LLI helped me grow was through the mentoring that happened through the program. LLI revolves around equipping the next generation of leaders to be passionate about following Christ and learning to lead others in the same direction.
LLI stands out from other leadership programs in that it is not program focused, but rather leader focused. The LLI mentors don’t only want to equip participants so that they can have a successful summer camp, but they want to develop life-long leaders who can serve in any cross-cultural context.
The truths I learned in LLI would be practical in any ministry. I was not being trained for just one task that would only happen that summer. Instead I was enabled to learn about myself and my team, express what I was learning and understanding from the biblical and team-building material, and at times make mistakes while I was figuring out what I believed. This was all in order that I would take the truths to heart that we were learning in the program.
The LLI mentors created a safe yet challenging atmosphere. We were allowed to make mistakes in the learning process because of the support that was offered. The LLI mentoring was also outstanding because our leaders clearly defined themselves as such, leaders.
Often in Western culture, the church is more comfortable viewing pastors, elders, and church leaders as friends instead of people God has put in authority over them. The mentors, very much took the leadership position over the program. They were of course hospitable, kind, and humble, but they also used every conversation and situation as a time of teaching and corporate learning.
It was refreshing to not only be instructed on how to lead in a practical way, but to also have a clearly defined example before me. We watched our mentors depend fully on God for everything that they needed, while holding unashamedly to convictions and integrity pressed into their hearts by their relationship with Christ. Overall, it is the mentoring that made LLI Croatia stand out from any other leadership or ministry program I have ever been a part of.
I believe that God’s work in this ministry is just beginning, and I envy anyone who has the chance to experience this program in the future. I came home from Croatia challenged, well-equipped, more dependent on my Lord, and excited for a new chapter of life in which I am more equipped to serve Jesus. If students are intentional about going into the program with a mind and heart that is ready to learn, the outcome will be beyond beneficial not only for the summer but for life.
Cultural Perspectives on Leadership Practices
Have you ever wondered why some leaders are very strong and authoritarian while others are very mild and not very authoritarian? Are you shocked when leaders tell you what to do and expect you to do it without questioning? Or are you shocked when leaders expect you to decide what you should do rather than giving you clear direction?
Leadership and followership misunderstandings are a major challenge for multicultural teams. Different cultural ideals shape different leadership styles. In working with leaders from another culture, it is necessary to first understand how your own style was shaped in your family and culture. Then you can learn how other styles were also shaped in their family and culture.
Mary Douglas describes four different cultural types that are shaped by everyday practices. The first one is Individuating cultural practices where the individual is in focus. What the individual prefers tends to take priority over the preferences of others. The second one is Institutionalizing cultural practices that focus on the proper way to do things or following a set of rules or procedures. The third type is Hierarching cultural practices where a defined hierarchy exists and everyone supports the hierarchy. The fourth type is Interrelating cultural practices where everyone is considered equal.
Each cultural type shapes a different style of leadership. In the Individuating cultural type, there is no one set way to do things but each person decides what is best for him or her. In the Institutionalizing cultural type, there are clear definitions of what the leader can and cannot do. However, if the leader has grown up in an Individuating environment, they tend to follow the rules of the system as they choose or prefer. In the Hierarching cultural type, the leader is the authority and everyone supports his or her decisions even though they don’t agree. In the Interrelating cultural type, everyone has a voice and decisions are made once a consensus has been reached. There is no specified leader as everyone is considered the same.
The scriptures have numerous verses on leaders. Two of them are:
Matthew 20:26 Not so with you, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.
Romans 13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
However, people from Individuating and Institutionalizing cultures tend to interpret these verses from their individual perspective while people from Hierarching and Interrlating culture tend to interpret these verses from their hierarchic or corporate perspective. Everyone needs God’s wisdom to be able to discern cultural differences so that the Gospel can be clearly presented through your leadership (and followership) practices.
by Sheryl Takagi Silzer
Sheryl is a multicultural consultant with SIL International. Her Cultural Self Discovery workshops enable multicultural teams to discover and address their multicultural team misunderstandings. Her workshop is based on Biblical Multicultural Teams: Applying Biblical Truth to Cultural Differences. She also team teaches a seminary class helping Asian Americans to identify and address their cultural challenges.
Antony Edge was studying for his Master’s degree in business at a university in Atlanta, Georgia. On a beautiful Spring day, he decided to change his study routine from the library to the scenic environment of a nearby state park, where thousands of acres of forest surround a huge, exposed mass of granite aptly named Stone Mountain.
Antony told his wife where he would be, and invited her to join him later in the day. He was not to be seen alive again. Tragically, his body was discovered the next day, having plunged six hundred feet (183 m) to his death. Yes, ultimately it was an accident, but only after repeated warnings had been ignored. Antony had to deliberately ignore a four-foot-high warning fence around the top of the mountain with signs that say: “Danger: Do not go beyond this point.” But, wanting to see more, and experience more, he had knowingly climbed over the fence to his own demise.
Now, the question that makes this relevant for us is this: Was this fence on Stone Mountain erected out of legalism or love? Was it placed there as a barrier to Antony’s enjoyment of life? Or, was it a life-preserving boundary to keep him safe from harm?
There is probably no fence more needed, or ignored, in our busy, multi-tasking lives than the fourth commandment: “Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy,” (Exodus 20:8). Those of us in the media-saturated, technological, Western world almost universally view it as a barrier to our freedom; a fence to prevent us from enjoying all the experiences we can grab. Seldom do we embrace it as a boundary to enhance healthy living, deeper worship, and more intimate community.
The Sabbath is modeled on God’s own behavior. Labor six days; then rest and reflect on your work. Here are three principles, stated negatively, that highlight the positive gift of rest, health, and worship that God intended for His Sabbath:
SABBATH IS NOT JUST A GOOD IDEA:
But that’s the problem. We too often put it in the category of just another good idea, kind of like organizing our closet, writing those thank-you notes, or visiting that ailing aunt in the nursing home. But this is God’s timeless moral rhythm built into the universe. We ignore it to our peril. Our calendars, stress-related illnesses, and lack of deep relationships bear evidence that we frequently climb over this fence seeking more excitement, but find only emptiness.
Don’t overly focused on the Sabbath day. Take the principle seriously. The core of this counsel is that we recognize who is God and who is not. The Sabbath principle is about ceasing and resting, not just for health, but because it is a “to the Lord your God.” We stop. We put down our tools, our competencies, or accomplishments, our busyness. We remember our Creator and our Master. It’s the best idea ever for practicing humility.
SABBATH IS NOT “GOING TO CHURCH:”
It may include corporate gathering, worship, and instruction. But this is not about checking a box. Cease working, whatever that means for you. For some, it will require going off-line, or shutting off the cell phone. For some, it will mean taking a nap or sitting under a tree with your favorite book. For others, it will include enjoyable physical movement, exploration, or creative projects. True rest is relaxing and recreating in ways that do not require extensive organization, deadlines, and production. Cease competing. Confess your worry. Put away anger and striving. Stop trying to accomplish. Play. Receive. Give thanks. Where are the spaces of time and place that create this rhythm for you?
SABBATH IS NOT NORMAL!
It is against our fallen and fleshly nature to let God be God. Rest is alien to self-sufficient humanity. Joy, rest, and play is what God gives, not what I manufacture. I have to trust Him and simply, humbly receive. But this is a cultural heresy. Sitting still, reading for leisure, lingering over a meal, or napping in a hammock appears to our frantic friends as wasting time. We will seem to be good for nothing if we aren’t producing, multi-tasking, and squeezing every drop of excitement from each milli-second. But we will be allowing God to take us away from our self-sufficiency and unbounded ambition back into His quiet, immense goodness where we glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.
The Sabbath is for shutting off the kingdom of noise, comparison, measurement, requirement, and hurry, and rediscovering what really brings us joy. Your Father knows what that is. It is found in being home with Him in the warmth of worship. It is savoring the ceasing and resting which declares Him to be the Master and I the recipient. It is slipping back into the healthful rhythm of creation, stepping back from the precipice of demands. The Sabbath is a time to actually enjoy, and be thankful for the fruits of our labor. It is looking at all we have not accomplished and recognizing that our frenzied efforts will never satisfy all our desires. So instead of pressing the accelerator, we park. We rest. Trust God that He has given us enough time within the boundaries of health and wholeness to accomplish all that is necessary. And, ultimately, we will enjoy more of the life, and savor more of the beauty, in the time God has given.
By Roger Thompson
Roger has a passion for seeing men discipled in the church and has invested his life into young leaders for several decades as a pastor. In the early '90's, he and his wife Joanne took my wife and me under their wings and mentored us into ministry for which we are forever grateful. Currently, he serves as the Area Director for Man in the Mirror in the Twin Cities.
Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_tomwang'>tomwang / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Behind the scenes is where relational discipleship essentially takes place. As a mentor, the ministry of investing your life into others is out of the public eye and needs no recognition. Your desire is to push others forward into deeper significant relationship with God and those in their spheres of influence. Mentors are not shining the spotlight on themselves, rather we delight in seeing others develop beyond us and becoming what God intended them to be. In this relationship, the focus is not receiving but joy in giving, believing and enabling others to accomplish their vision and dreams.
Do you know what characterizes the relational discipler?
You need to have a heart that nurtures and steps alongside others to resource them as they pursue their dreams. Mentoring is about making others successful and not prioritizing our ministry and reputation.
Barnabas was this kind of a person. As you know, God used him to play a significant part in Paul’s life. Although, he led a ministry team with Paul in Antioch and was sent out on the first missionary journey to the Gentiles, Barnabas ends up taking the backseat.
After Paul moves into missionary leadership as the apostle to the Gentiles, Barnabas moves into the background as a discipler in the church in Antioch. Outside of Acts, only one reference is made to Barnabas in 1 Corinthians 9:6 regarding their travels. Barnabas still traveled to the Gentile world, but he remained in the background, out of the focus of the Christian culture. Perhaps there is no greater joy for the mentor than to see those you have invested in, walking with God, and in the limelight functioning effectively for Jesus Christ.
Another mentor I want to remind you about is Nathan. As a priest, Nathan had a major impact and role in David’s life. Relational disciplers are given divine moments to encounter the lives of others at critical times in their life just as we see in Scripture. David would have never moved on in his leadership, if God had not sent Nathan to speak into his life. But again, he is whisked off by God from those visible encounters with David, and hidden behind the chapters and scenes of history and Scripture.
Barnabas and Nathan never questioned or felt insignificant to God by walking into obscurity. They knew that success in ministry was not based on their accomplishing great things; it was in developing great people. They were never mentioned in the hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, but they were significant leaders in the lives of others.
By Jim Feiker and edited by Steve Meeker
Jim was my dear mentor and he lived out the truths in this article. The original article was written by Jim and I am blessed with the privilege of adapting these articles for the LLI Blog ministry. Original Article Title "The Invisible Ministry of Personal Spiritual Coaching"
Recently I found myself sitting in my car, feeling very sorry for myself as it was being towed down the highway. Lately, a lot of things had been breaking down, and this particular day seemed to be going from bad to worse. As I thought back over the previous two days, however, I had the sudden realization that there could have been another outcome. There were, in fact, a few warning signs, or at least opportunities for other choices that would have helped me avoid the expensive towing, if not an overpriced Sunday mechanic.
The red battery light had been on for a day before we needed to start our 250 km journey. Shortly after we began, the car died on the side of the highway, only to restart again after 20 minutes. This miraculously allowed us to coast into the next gas station before dying again. There, friendly police officers made some calls to the next town over to find a mechanic, but as the car seemed to be driving again, we felt confident that we could slowly make our way back and so sped right by that exit. However, it died again shortly thereafter, but somehow we made it to the next gas station. It was at this gas station that an empty tow truck just happened to be fueling up, and I finally gave up the plan of making it to our destination.
As I sat perched high up on the tow truck, I realized there were really two different ways of telling this story. In fact, I had been putting the events in the wrong narrative structure. This wasn’t actually a “woe is me” story where everything difficult was happening in one day. Instead, it was a story about me being flippant about warnings, a story of me discarding the offers of help and provision. This was a story about me forging ahead in my own way, ignoring the subtle invitations to make wiser decisions, instead playing on chance to save a few bucks.
In Proverbs, Wisdom personified calls to those who will listen to her, and predicts calamity for those who ignore her counsel and reproof. Solomon urges his son to seek wisdom with intention: “…making your ear attentive to wisdom, and inclining your heart to understanding, if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding; if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures...” (2: 2-4)
These are complicated times in our world. It can often be difficult to make wise decisions that will help us to live, as described by the prophet Micah, doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God. What does this look like in the day-to-day decisions and uncertainty that we often face? Being attentive to the stories we are telling ourselves is vitally important as we seek to understand God’s ways and will in our world. When I reframed my story from one of me as the hapless victim to one depicting me as ignoring God’s continued invitation into his provision, I gained the wisdom to understand the interaction between God and myself that had been transpiring all day.
Ultimately, Solomon notes, God is the giver of wisdom, and this will ensure that “we will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path.”
As it turned out, acquiescing to that tow truck mysteriously waiting for us at the gas station was not about a broken down car at all—but a lesson in listening and paying attention, in repentance and acknowledgement of foolishness, and most importantly, accepting God’s extravagant provision and grace.
By Melody J. Wachsmuth
Melody is a writer and researcher, based in Croatia, who is curious about people’s lives, spirituality, and how the two intersect in their present context. Consequently, she loves to collect and write people’s stories.
Jim Feiker was a dear mentor and friend whose life intersected mine in a way only God could have orchestrated. Prior to serving in Croatia, he and his wife, Bev, came to visit us and what caught Jim’s eye was a picture we had on our shelf. He asked, “Who is this man? I know him.”
Perplexed, I responded, “It was my dad, but he had passed away in 1985.”
As we explored the possibilities of the two of them meeting, it turned out they had shared the same room at a Men’s Conference in Colorado prior to my dad’s passing a few years earlier. What I didn’t know then is how much both of these men would be instrumental in teaching me about the heart of relational discipleship.
As we begin our Leadership Lab International blog ministry, I have the privilege of developing entries from articles Jim wrote, which our team hopes will encourage and challenge you as you step alongside others in fulfilling the Great Commission.
May God be glorified as each of us invests our lives into the lives of others. Soli Deo gloria (To God alone be the glory)!
by Steve Meeker
What does mentoring mean to you?
You may have had others in your life who stepped with you through difficult times or helped you refocus and learn the skills you needed to in order to succeed. This is what I was looking for as I came to the Leadership Lab International (LLI) training.
Before coming to my first LLI training I felt discouraged, I had some negative past experiences working as a teacher, but as I was participating in LLI, God was revealing to me that I could be a good leader. God put great people in my life, mentors, who shared their stories and from that it made me think about my life and career and I realized that I wanted to try again and I didn’t want to give up. It inspired in me a desire to think again about working with kids and with youth.
On the one hand, I soaked up everything I could from the teaching sessions, but it was my trainers's lives that caught my attention and as I observed them, they modelled for us how to interact with children and those we would work with. Their examples encouraged me to love others and take care of them from a heart of love for God and others.
Mentoring young leaders has new meaning for me and now I understand to invest your life into someone else’s you need to do it out of an honest and humble heart. Just like those who invested into my life and were willing to open up their lives so we could learn how to develop the heart of a mentor. - Ola from Poland
Thank you for your support of Leadership Lab International through prayer and giving. Together, we are stepping alongside young leaders so they are not thrust into ministry without receiving mentored training. Your partnership with us is such a blessing to the young people who come through LLI as you can read from Ola’s story.
You are part of this growing ministry that God is advancing to prepare young leaders to persevere and succeed in ministry wherever God takes them. Through LLI, we have the privilege of pouring our lives into the next generation as they learn to lead and become relational disciplers committed to God’s kingdom work around the world.
As we draw closer to the end of 2016, would you take a moment to support LLI as we seek to mentor and train more young leaders in 2017. Your gifts will help make it possible for our team to walk alongside 10 young leaders during next summer’s LLI training.
Please consider joining us in mentoring young leaders for life.
Hoping You have a Blessed New Year,