Marks of a Kingdom Focus
Over the last few weeks, we have looked at some of the obstacles that we encounter when we are pursuing Kingdom outcomes, namely qualities and temptations within us that become roadblocks or barriers to success done God’s way. We have been using the book The Choice, as we looked at the common path that is taken by many organizations and their leaders.
If we are working toward Kingdom Outcomes, then we need to have a Christ-Centered Ministry. Before we begin looking at the marks of a Christ-Centered Ministry, it is important to know that there are some basic assumptions from which we are operating.
First, the Christian leaders must resist the temptations of pride, idolatry and control. (These are the temptations we have been talking about over the past few weeks.) Next, while the marks discussed below are important, they are not a magic formula that will produce the perfect organization with the perfect Kingdom outcomes. Like our entire faith journey, the marks are a tool to guide our formation as we seek to follow Christ and work toward Kingdom outcomes. Finally, the marks are for Christian leaders. You may encounter organizational leaders who are not believers who are functioning without these marks, and some may look at you strangely as you focus on following Christ.
God’s instructions will often appear to be foolishness to the rest of the world. We cannot expect the rest of the world to function in a way that honors Christ when they do not have a relationship with him.
Steward Leadership: A steward leader begins his or her work with submission to the Father. This doesn’t just mean sometimes or somethings. Instead, it includes everything we think, say and do. Only then will our leadership be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Steward Leadership can only be developed through time with God, in his Word and in communication with him. This happens each and every day, not just one or two days a week. There are two parts to this-personal and professional. On the personal side, it means carving out time for God. On the professional side it means ensuring that our organizations do not fall into borderline unethical practices. We must be obedient in everything!
Faithfulness-Focused Strategies: If steward leadership is our operating system, then faithfulness-focused strategies are the apps that we run. These are the strategies that help us stay focused on faithfulness. Did you ever notice how easy it is to get away from being faithful?
The first strategy is to plan strategically prayerfully. Instead of focusing on growth or change, bring a group together to pray and wait for the direction given by the Holy Spirit. Only after the vision for the future has been received through the work of the Holy Spirit, should strategic planning begin. Then, strategic planning is the tool that assures alignment with the vision from God.
Perhaps nowhere are faithfulness-focused strategies more needed than in our fundraising efforts. First, we need to remember that the money raised is Kingdom money and is to be used for Kingdom purposes. When we need funds to support the vision and the strategic plan given to us by the Holy Spirit, then the first place we should go to ask about funds should be to God and not to a human being. We need to trust God in our fundraising efforts.
Our job in raising funds to support Kingdom work is to invite others to join with us, sharing what they have to fulfill God’s vision. This invitation and message should come through loud and clear in all of our fundraising efforts. Our job is not to raise funds but to help others to become givers. If we think we are fundraisers then we are trying to do God’s job.
Eternity-Oriented Measures. Eternity oriented measures value what Jesus values and assess work in order to foster faithfulness. The focus is on the quality of our work instead of the quantity. A good question to ask ourselves about the measures we are using to determine whether or not we are successful is, do these measures measure growth in God’s kingdom or our own?
Relationship-Based Management. In faith-based organizations, people should be treated differently than they are in the rest of the world. My heart broke when I saw a recent Facebook post about a Christian ministry that was advertising for an employment opportunity. Someone had shared that they used to work there but for a Christian organization, the people were not very nice.
We need to model a humble spirit and love for everyone, employees, volunteers and those we serve. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) And guess, what? Whether we realize it or not, the rest of the world is watching to see how Christians are different from them. Love must be our mark of distinction.
Stewardship View of Resources. A stewardship view of resources looks at two areas – our areas of spiritual giftedness and physical resources. Jesus gave explicit instructions about what to do with them, and it is different from the way the world handles things.
We are told that each of us has spiritual gifts; however, it is important to ensure that we don’t view them as assets that we use. They are gifts given to us to be used by the Holy Spirit to fulfill work of the Kingdom.
Secondly, we are to be generous with our resources. Christ modeled this generosity in giving his life for us. Generosity is not always easy and often takes the path less traveled. It means putting the needs of others ahead of your own. But Christ called for each of us to be generous stewards for nothing we have really belongs to us.
Being a Christ-Centered Ministry is impossible…without the intervention of the Holy Spirit in our lives! Think and pray about the work you are doing now. What do you need to do differently to focus more on Kingdom Outcomes?