As I write this article, I’m sitting in a McDonald’s on Interstate 35 in Ardmore. I don’t ever remember writing an article from a fast food restaurant before. To be honest, I’m not sure it is all that fast or even if it is really food. But I owe it to the Golden Arches to eat here every so often. They’ve fed thousands of my students as our youth groups traveled across the country. In the beginning, they lured me in by offering free meals for youth pastors. Now, they lure me in by offering free Wi-Fi. I wonder what they’ll offer when I move into the next phase of my life: a free EKG?
As a youth pastor, I was always attracted to the concept of free. At least when I turned in the receipts to the chairman of the finance committee, I didn’t have to explain why I supersized my order. For some reason, the people who controlled the money kept sending me books about fasting. But I’m not with a church group today, so I had to pay for my meal.
I’ve also been working on the leadership training manual for our ministry. Awe Star’s effectiveness depends on the principles and skills we install in our leaders, who are preparing to take teams to Ethiopia, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. Their training includes medical emergencies; safety; evacuating a team from a country; and dealing with spiritual, mental and emotional problems. We pour hours and hours into these young men and women. And guess what happens after they finish leading a team? They must go back through the entire training process the next year. We can’t rely on last year’s training. We must remind them of what they already know and keep pouring into them new principles and skills as God directs.
Jesus spent lots of time pouring His life into those who became the first leaders of the church, too. After all my years of training leaders, I’ve boiled the process down into three areas: people, time and money. If you, like Jesus, can master these, you’ll be an effective leader. And these are the same three areas in which you need to train your children.
You see, Awe Star not only trains students to be leaders but equips students for life. I can’t begin to tell you how many people I know who have had to leave the ministry because they didn’t know how to manage one of these three things. I know pastors who are great preachers but don’t know how to get along with people, and they move from church to church. Others are weak in the area of financial stewardship and get into budget problems. Still others don’t know how to manage their time, and their ineffectiveness turns their ministry into a joke.
Your leadership will only rise to your lowest standard in any of these areas. If you don’t master them, they’ll master you. So if you want to become more proficient, study how Jesus functioned within these realms.
1. People: Wise leaders are good stewards of human resources, understanding how to cast vision and use individuals’ giftedness to accomplish a bigger purpose. Jesus could walk up to two fishermen and say, “Follow Me,” and immediately they dropped their nets and followed Him (Matt. 4:19-20). He could give a woman at a well His undivided attention, and the next moment, overturn the money tables in protest of those who were making a mockery of God’s House. Jesus was a master of people.
2. Time: I hear students say things like, “when I get out of college, I’ll have more time.” No, they won’t. They’ll still have a 24-hour day and a seven-day week. No one was busier than Jesus: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25). But He knew how to prioritize His time and understood the importance of spending time with His Father. Jesus was a master of time.
3. Money: Jesus taught us the proper place of wealth in a believer’s life. He taught us in what order we are to use our money and often spoke about financial responsibility. He showed us, above all, that our attitude about money is more important than how much or little we have. Jesus was a master of money.
As I watch the people coming into McDonald’s this morning, I see the pain in their lives. I hear them yelling at each other and watch them spending money that should go toward other things. What they really need is not a Value Meal but a life of value. And that only comes from knowing Him.