Leadership is making the dreams of others come true – The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly is a secular story about a company that decided to help its employees identify and realize their dreams. Their goal was to reduce turnover and increase corporate profits. I’m sure Matthew is a Christian because His book illustrates a great truth in the Bible. The Dream Manager is on our recommended reading list.
Servants don’t dream – We continually encourage people to move up from servants to “friend” of God. Most of us come from a theological perspective that places great value on being God’s servant. Charismatic Christians, in particular, use language that limits us to do only what the Holy Spirit guides us to do. I’m not describing that as bad. I want to suggest it’s a legitimate stage of our spiritual development. Coupled with that belief is what all the servants are subservient to. As a pew-person and a pastor I believed the most important work for Christians was the great commission (reaching the lost) and I believed that growing and planting local churches was the way to accomplish evangelism. With that “apostolic” theology in mind I placed no value on my own personal desires and focused my life on the joy of “serving” God and His people by growing my church – sounds pretty good, huh?
Beyond “Servant” – Here’s the problem. Without a personal dream, you’re just an “employee” or a “servant.” You’re not relationally plugged in. “Hireling” is the same term with a connotation for the resulting level of loyalty to the company (or the Kingdom). Listen to Jesus’ answer to the disciples request, “Lord, increase our faith.” They are asking Jesus to help them take the next step. First He suggests the power that resides within them for even the smallest amount of faith. It’s the power to exercise initiative!… something a servant would never do – it’s at least presumption, maybe rebellion!
6 “If your faith were only the size of a mustard seed,” Jesus answered, “it would be large enough to uproot that mulberry tree over there and send it hurtling into the sea! Your command would bring immediate results! Luke 17:6 TLB
Next, Jesus describes what being a perfect servant leads to… nothing!
7-9 When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, he doesn’t just sit down and eat, but first prepares his master’s meal and serves him his supper before he eats his own. And he is not even thanked, for he is merely doing what he is supposed to do. 10 Just so, if you merely obey me, you should not consider yourselves worthy of praise. For you have simply done your duty!” Luke 17:6-10 TLB
“You should not consider yourself worthy of praise.” I used to preach that we should be willing and humble servants with no expectation of praise; no sense of worthiness. I was wrong… I misrepresented who God really is. He loves to reward, honor and praise his people for doing things that please Him (see list of verses below). The point of this verse is that “servant” is not what pleases God! Servants don’t share His dream. They won’t give themselves permission to look into their own desires and find the will of God. They just do what they are told, nothing more. They don’t share God’s heart. The Lord is inviting us to have dreams and find the connection between our heart’s desires and His. That’s when you will be motivated to create and initiate something in the Kingdom that warrants increase… 30, 60, and 100-fold. One of my greatest thrills is to hear the voice of God saying, “Well done John.” If I heard, “You have simply done your duty,” it would be a huge disappointment.
A Church Full of Servants – I attended a church for 16 years and pastored two churches for an additional 13 years where we believed evangelism was the top priority and the local church was the primary vehicle to accomplish that end. Individuals were expected to lay down their lives for those objectives. The result… we laid down our lives and set our heart’s desires on the church and its growth. Some people didn’t make it because they couldn’t connect with a dream that wasn’t their own. Others so idolized the pulpit ministry they would compete for the leadership of the church and became difficult for the pastor to work with! Elders under this system were invariably Kings (competitive and called to the marketplace) that lined up for the next opportunity to preach… and loved to impose their own will and vision on the pastor’s vision for the church. They had misplaced their own personal dream and used the church as a substitute. Our theology placed no value on the marketplace and no value on personal dreams. All that was left was the church and the pulpit.
What’s your dream? How can I help you take the next step? – What if we changed our theology to put a value on the dream of each person in our congregation or company? What would that look like? For starters, pastors, managers, and people would at least try to ask the question, “What’s your dream?” Leaders would serve others by helping identify those dreams and encouraging goals to make them come true. Can you see how putting evangelism second creates an individual that will naturally be more evangelistic?… because he or she is happy, fulfilled, motivated, productive, excited and has something left to give (both financially and spiritually). Instead of placing all our energy serving an introverted institution (church or company), we actually “go into all the world” pursuing those dreams (and the church or company grows as a byproduct of real maturity in the people).
The second thing that happens when people start to value their dream or heart’s desire is that they place a value on the dream of the pastor or manager that leads their church or company (Right now pastors are often afraid to articulate their own dream for the church for fear it won’t get through the committee). If leaders teach us to value our dreams, we will learn to value the dream of the leader… That’s when churches and companies really shift into another level of productivity and blessing – when leaders are free to lead; when there is no discord in the camp. The presence and the blessing of God are drawn toward harmony… And harmony is finding the synergism between two dreams in two people instead of mandating that everyone share the same dream.
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.
It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. Ps 133 NIV
The real goal of the church (or a corporation) is to equip the saints. We do that by releasing their dreams; allowing them to explore the desire of their heart. We end up releasing Kings that change the world… then we have to graduate them into the work of expanding the Kingdom throughout the earth. They become “sent ones” and fulfill the apostolic mandate to reach out to the marketplace. They each give birth to one of God’s dreams. Similarly, a company can also have an apostolic call to equip its people to expand the Kingdom. We are not losing people by “releasing Kings” – we’re gaining their loyalty and sharing their dreams. Friends have a relationship. Covenant is not just a contract; it’s love.
(God praises, delights in, honors, and rejoices over people that please him: Mt 25:21, Jn 5:44, 12:43, 1Cor 4:5, 1Pet 1:7, 1Sam 2:20, Ps 149:4, Ps 22:8, Prov 11:20, Isa 62:4-5, Jer 32:41)
Life is an adventure. People are a blessing. God is amazing. We’re winning.