Monthly Archives: January 2013

Leaders Interpret Reality, Part 2

Dear Momentum Leaders,

Last week we discussed the idea that leaders are great interpreters of their times. David leaned on the Men of Issachar, as he knew that they understood their times. This week, I want to share with you another example of a leader who interprets reality for his followers.

In Philippians 1, Paul is writing to the church at Philippi. He’s been imprisoned in Rome, and he writes the letter from prison. His followers are troubled. After all, if someone as Godly as their leader Paul can be imprisoned, what hope do they have? Notice how Paul reassures them and interprets his circumstances:

“12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

Paul tells them that though on the surface his situation looks bleak, it is in fact a great opportunity to advance the gospel. He literally has a “captive” audience! And, others, seeing Paul’s boldness, have been inspired to be bold, too.

There is another problem that Paul needs to interpret for the Philippians. It seems that in Paul’s absence, another crop of preachers has come, but it is clear that their motives for preaching are not the same as Paul’s. Paul assures his followers in this way:

“15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

Paul tells his followers how they should think and feel about what has happened to him and to them. And that is a principle for us. There are plenty of times when, even if a leader and his/her followers are doing all the right things, their circumstances might not directly reflect such success. As leaders, we need to have the vision and the strength to be able to interpret reality, even in the midst of hard times. Paul doesn’t claim to have all the answers (he confesses that in the next paragraph), but Paul knows enough to realize that his circumstances are not dire enough for him to stop trusting God.

How is God working in your life? Do your circumstances reflect all that is going on under the surface?

How is God working in the circumstances of those you lead?

How can you best help them interpret their reality?

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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Uncategorized


Leaders Interpret Reality, Part 1

My favorite architect is Frank Lloyd Wright. (Everybody has a favorite architect, right?) For years, I’ve been drawn to his style that is deceptively simple yet very calculated. I’ve had the privilege of visiting and touring many of the homes he designed. My wife and daughter even got kicked out of the Robie House in Chicago…ask me about that sometime.

Frank Lloyd Wright, in talking about architecture, said this: “Every great architect…must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.” Certainly Lloyd Wright did this, as one of the founding fathers of the Prairie and Craftsman styles so popular here in Walla Walla.

This quote reminds of a passage in the Bible, and helps point us to a leadership principle. In 1 Chronicles 12, David is gathering a collection of leaders who will aid him in establishing his kingdom. It is not going to be easy to establish his kingdom, so as you might expect, he wisely gathers quite a few soldiers, noted for their skill and bravery. Right in the middle of the list of folks David assembles, however, is a strange entry. In verse 32, David gathers the “men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” All the other folks David assembles are noted for their military prowess. Yet the Men of Issachar have another skill. Clearly, they’ve been studying Frank Lloyd Wright.

The ability to understand the time–and, more to the point the ability to interpret the times–is a key leadership skill. As leaders, we need to be putting ourselves in the culture enough to be able to understand and interpret popular thinking. Too many of us are scared of what we might find when we step outside our doors or outside our traditional patterns. But that does not seem to be a wise way to live, or to lead others. Knowing the times and falling prey to the times are two different things, but as leaders we need to have a certain degree of cultural relevance so that we can properly steer others.

How are you at understanding the times? 

How are you at interpreting the times?

What tools and skills do you utilize to do this?

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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Uncategorized