Leadership as Exploration

“The most expansive, energetic force in the world today is the Spirit of God.” So says Mel Lawrenz in Spiritual Influence. What this means, of course, is going where the Spirit leads. What this means is that the Spirit guides us into exploring where God is at work. Leadership becomes drawing others into a vision of what is around the corner, of what God might do next, of what is in store for those listening to the Spirit … it is not so much knowing what is to happen but anticipating what God is doing. Like Lewis and Clark …

When you have had to inspire others to explore a new area of ministry in your church, what did you learn? What were the biggest challenges? What created the critical mass in that direction?

Notice how Mel says this: it is about drawing others in rather than dictating what the vision is. It is about drawing them so they can be part of the discovery. Mel himself explores some valuable ideas about leadership and influence as exploration:

First, you never know where discovery might lead you.

Second, there are elements that flat-out kill discovery and exploration:

1. Fear of failure
2. Fear of loss
3. Limited objectives
4. Lack of curiosity

Third, we need to commit ourselves to exploration asking God to guide and lead into what divine discoveries are there for us — and it can come reading the Bible, praying, meeting with leaders outsider our circles, visiting a needy place and catching a vision, mentoring, and just doing something we’ve not done before.

One way we explore is to do what Mel calls “stream ideas.” Ideas are at the core of spiritual influence. As good theology fills our mind with God-ideas (who God is, who we are, what God is doing, etc), so influence means streaming good ideas. Take one idea — like freedom or justice or peace — and see where it can take us. Or compassion — where will it take your church?

Sure, it takes some work to think great thoughts; and our culture at times fights the time needed to stream good ideas.

Question: What was the seminal idea of the last century’s leaders — and into our own time? [e.g., Rauschenbusch, Warfield, Billy Graham, John Stott, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Adam Hamilton, etc…] Do leaders often have a seminal idea?

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