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Monday, April 16, 2018

Light It Up!

This is is my third blog on a common theme. It might have the most practical application for leaders who want to make any real impact.

Following an interview with Reggie McNeal on his book, Kingdom Collaborators, I could see a straight line from his ministry orientation to the work of community organizers. So I blogged on that two weeks ago.

Then I saw parallels to the recent student led protests by David Hogg and his Parkland High School alums. Definitely some prospects for future community organizers. That was last week’s blog.

Today I’m going to share a summary of the “Eight Signature Practices of Leaders Who Turn the World Upside Down” from McNeal’s book. I’m using an excellent summary of a talk by Reggie McNeal to about 50 congregational and ministry team leaders at the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Christa Meland gave me permission to use her summary. (Article link below)

Here is the way Reggie McNeal described eight characteristics of leaders who are kingdom-centered rather than church-centered. They are:

  1. Kingdom leaders pray with one eye open. They’re not trying to shut out the world while they pray. Instead, they have the world in the cross-hairs of prayer efforts. Their prayers are informed by what’s happening in world.
  2. Kingdom leaders agitate well. They don’t just get people riled up—they get people riled up to do something. They are intentional about agitating for justice and joy. They are great about selling a problem around which people can rally to work toward a solution.
  3. Kingdom leaders combine social and spiritual entrepreneurship. If you want to help eliminate hunger in your community, for example, get different volunteers to help people find housing, locate jobs, and provide meals to children so they’re well-nourished and can focus at school.
  4. Kingdom leaders marry vision with action. They don’t just sell a passion; they build on ramps for people to get involved in it. They answer the question “So, what should I do?”
  5. Kingdom leaders shape a people-development culture. They constantly help people live a better life. It’s not how many people are in worship or participating in church activities. They measure success by the number of people who are living more abundantly as a result of their efforts.
  6. Kingdom leaders curate curiosity. McNeal cited Don Clifton, a United Methodist minister who developed the StrengthsFinder tool. His insatiable curiosity about what would happen if we focused on what was right with people instead of what’s wrong with them led him to develop a resource that’s been used by about twelve million people nationwide.
  7. Kingdom leaders call the party. Having built relationships in their community, they can easily convene a crowd. Following their passion to do something, they know how to get people around a table to make it happen. They know that leadership is not just positional, it’s personal.
  8. Kingdom leaders maintain a pain-tinged optimism. McNeal said Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech avoided a focus on what was wrong in the world; it painted a picture of a more hopeful future. All great kingdom leaders, in moments of rest, carry the pain of something that still isn’t right or needs to be done. But they convey hope because hope inspires. Dreams and hope are a vestige of the Kingdom of God.

Keep in mind Reggie McNeal wrote Kingdom Collaborators for a ministry-minded audience. Certainly his eight characteristics apply to leaders of both for-profit and non-profit organizations wanting to make a difference. And especially for community organizers.

Jesus said, “You are the world’s light—it is impossible to hide a town built on the top of a hill. Men do not light a lamp and put it under a bucket. They put it on a lamp-stand and it gives light for everybody in the house. Let your light shine like that in the sight of men. Let them see the good things you do and praise your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, Phillips)

There are your marching orders. Light it up!

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