Issue 20: Leadership and Influence


Hersey, Blanchard and Johnson in Management of Organizational Behavior note that: “leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an individual or a group in efforts toward achievement in a given situation.” It relates to the ability of leaders to influence followers and others to work toward agreed goals within a given situation.

Over the years, I have discovered that leadership influence has little to do with the leadership role or position that you hold and everything to do about how you treat people.

Quite often, and importantly, leadership influence will occur outside of the leadership position you hold.

For instance, in one Victorian country parish that I led, we enabled the church to engage effectively with the social needs of our growing community. We provided support and insight for our Shire President and Council to identify and address the growing social needs that were going to affect our community in the years to come. The Council was then able to institute actions and programs that would help it to deal with these needs as they arose.

Some years later, a Shire Councilor and I discussed with the Shire Secretary the lack of action that had occurred concerning a report produced for Council regarding social needs. He told us “Councilors do not have time to read reports, but if Andrew Peters proposes any program to Council, they would adopt it and do it”.

I asked him to repeat what he said.

He noted that any program that I proposed to Council they would do – not simply consider but do.

That is influence.

Around the same time, we also had a Clergy Deanery lunch at the local pub in our town. I noticed that all the clergy coming back from ordering their lunch and drinks had a peculiar look on their face.

One clergyperson came in and said that the publican would only charge him for lunch, and not his drinks. All the clergy had experienced the same thing.

At that moment the Shire President and Councilors came into the dining room and greeted me as they went to their table.

Towards the end of the meal, the publican’s wife came and offered us sweets on the house.

At that point, the Archdeacon said, “Andrew must own shares in the pub!”

Now none of this had been prearranged. How did it happen then?

It is a matter of influence.

It is a result of how you treat people. Even though I was the parish priest and I do not drink, we had a good relationship with the publican and his family.

Leadership is about influence.

It is not about positions, controlling people or manipulating them to do what you want.

It is about investing in people. The more you invest in people, the better you treat them, the more likely they are to take notice of what you do and think.

Leadership is about influencing people to take action based on the relationship you have with them, how you treat them and the time and resources you have invested in them.

Take a moment to reflect on how you treat people and who you are investing in today.

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Issue 19: Pentecost, the Holy Spirit and Today


The Holy Spirit’s arrival came with a commotion so loud that it attracted thousands of people to see what was going on. Some three thousand people were added to the church that day.

What a beginning!

Within a few days another five thousand men with their families were added to the church through a miracle that Peter and John did as they were going up to the temple to pray.

The disciples learnt through the event at Pentecost that God never follows our agenda. Rather, he calls us to follow His agenda and to be sold out to His cause.

The Holy Spirit energized the early Christians in such a way that they established a church that two millennia later has grown to two billion people plus.

But the same Spirit does not allow today’s church to stay complacent with such numbers, but reminds us that of the 6,820,972,832 (US Census Bureau, 14 th May 2010), over four billion of them do not attend a Christian Church and follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Some of those people live in Australia , next door to you and me.

Not only does the Holy Spirit not allow today’s Christians to be complacent but does not allow a nation such as ours to remain complacent either.

He gives us a name – the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit – then gives a cause – a mission to this world in its troubled time . Then He gives us His power to fulfill His cause.

We need to remember that God calls us afresh to His cause in this day and age and should ask on a daily basis: what is it you are wanting us to do?

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Issue 18: A Garden, A City and Trouble


By the time we get to the heavenly city in the book of Revelation, once again there is tranquility, prosperity and unabated relationship and fellowship. There again human beings live in unabated adoration of God and in intimate fellowship with Him and with one another.

There is one thing common to both places. There is no temple or church in either the garden or heavenly city. Temples and church buildings are there to assist the present needs of the world in which we live. The world we know is one that does not know tranquility, prosperity or unabated relationship and fellowship. We certainly have glimpses of these conditions when the church is at its best, and yet the very opposite occurs when the church is at its worst. It is a place where innocence has been shattered and guilt and shame hinder our best efforts to live a good and righteous life. Temples and Church buildings are there to remind us of our obligation to love and serve the living God and provide a resource for community togetherness in our adoration and respect for God.

Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble. That goes for all of us, no matter how faithful and committed to God we might be. Trouble began, whether figuratively or not, when Eve took the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and gave it to Adam to eat. That simple disobedience did not occur out of any need that they might have had, after all the garden was a place of tranquility, prosperity and unabated fellowship and relationship. It occurred because of an innate gift that God bestowed upon human beings – the gift of free-will. It also possibly occurred because of another innate gift bestowed upon us – the gift of curiosity. Just as curiosity killed the cat, the grass was not greener on the other side (sorry to mix metaphors). Through that act of disobedience into this world came trouble.

God could remove all the trouble from the world, but to do that he would also need to remove us. He would have to take back the gift of free-will. That is not something that God wants to do and is certainly not the answer to our problems that we want.

That is, not our free-will. Those other malcontents should probably have their rights annulled, but not us. One thing that is common in the garden and the heavenly city is the presence of the tree of life . Once disobedience had occurred both Eve and Adam were excluded from the garden. The reason given was that they might eat of the tree of life and live forever. In the idyllic scene of the garden, as long as they stayed in obedience to God they lived in tranquility, prosperity and unabated relationship and fellowship, a state in which they could live forever. Once disobedience entered, human beings were excluded from the garden and the potential to eternal life. In John 16 Jesus calls us once again to the love of God that is shown in our obedience to God, His will and purpose. This obedience comes with the promise of eternity, to dwell in the heavenly city with God forever.

Jesus however, also left us with another gift that would enable us to confront the trouble we find in the world and overcome it for good. He gave us the gift of peace, a peace that the world itself does not know. When we hit a crisis in our life we often call upon God to act in the situation to change its impact and effect. However, the first thing that God acts upon to change is us. He calls us to draw upon His peace, a peace of mind and heart in the most difficult of situations. It is as we draw upon that peace that we are enabled by God to deal with our troubles and difficulties and to turn them towards good.

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Issue 17: Following Your Own Convictions – And Letting Others Follow Theirs

Paul himself does not see anything wrong with eating a variety of foods nor considering one special day or all days holy. His point is that we need to follow our own convictions. He writes, “But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” (Rom 14:23 )

When we consider what God is asking of us, we encounter our Lord in a new way. He calls us afresh to the purpose He has for us. We see this in the encounters Jesus has with His disciples between His resurrection and Pentecost. In this process he challenges disciples like Thomas who initially doubted the resurrection stories (John 20) and then Peter to whom he makes a threefold call to feed His sheep (John 21). In that process Peter asks Jesus what is His intention for the other disciple (presumably John the author of the Gospel). Jesus tells him that it does not concern him what God’s intentions are for other disciples.

What does concern Peter is that he fulfils what God has asked Him to do. Peter takes that instruction to heart and for the rest of his life faithfully serves God and builds His Church. Peter’s faithfulness ends in martyrdom, crucified upside-down. When God calls, we need to respond to that call with all our hearts.In fulfilling God’s purpose for us there are three principles that help us stay focused upon that call:

  • Judge not that we will not be judged (Matthew 7:1; Romans 14);
  • Consider others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:1-4);
  • Assist others in their endeavours as we seek to fulfil our own purpose (Philippians 2:1- 4).
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Issue 16: The Generosity Factor


In the book The Generosity Factor Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy note four areas that we need to implement generosity as a basic aspect of our lives. These are Time, Talent, Treasure and Touch. It is through the use of these four areas of our life that we learn to be generous and significant people.

ClockTime – have you noticed that we all have the same amount of time? We all have 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The question is how we use the time we have been given? Paul tells us to make the most of our time for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). By this, he means to use the opportunities that come our way to sow into the kingdom of God.

Talent – according to Jesus, all of us have been given one or more abilities or gifts. Not only that, but if we use those abilities and gifts they will produce fruit for our efforts. Fear stops us from using those abilities and gifts to their fullest and produces negative habits in our lives that prevent us from prospering in the things we do (Matt 25:14- 30). God gives us abilities and gifts so we can prosper in the world, as well as assist Him in the establishment and building of His Kingdom.

TreasureTreasure – we all have treasure to some extent or other. The question is, does our treasure have us or do we have it. Paul notes that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil (1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5-6). Some people take this to mean that money or material possessions themselves are evil. However, the question of money or material things relates to our heart’s desires and determines whether we have our treasure or our treasure has us. Some people love money and use people to get it, when we are supposed to love people and use money. Both poor and rich people can have a love of money. God wants us to turn away from the love of money to love and serve Him. He calls us to give generously to His Church and to others so that we might prosper in all we do (Malachi 3:10 -12).

Touch – refers to what we give to others personally in the way of encouragement, support and assistance. Too many dreams or great ideas die in the early stages of their growth because there was no one there to encourage, support and assist. Many people never reach their full potential because no one took the personal interest in them to see them through. Paul tells us to be involved in what interests others and not simply our own interests (Philippians 2:1-4).

Each of these areas are prominent in God’s call to us to be generous people . We are not necessarily novices in these areas. God has stretched us year after year so we grow stronger in the generous part of our lives. We also work hard at diminishing the self-centered part of us that so often wants to take control. However, we need to allow God to extend us further so that not only do we prosper, but His work also prospers through us. This not only involves commitment in these areas, but a willingness to learn new dynamics that make us more effective with our: use of time; development of our abilities and skills; prospering in the financial areas of our lives so we can sow into God’s kingdom and church the resources it needs to impact our community, city and nation; and allowing our personal touch to be something that lifts the spirits of others so they can soar in the things that God is calling them to do.

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Issue 15: Sin and Separation

  1. God – the first level of separation was humanity’s separation from intimate friendship and fellowship with God. Whereas, they once chatted with God in the garden now they hid from God in fear. For many as a result, God is either dismissed of altogether or held aloof from any real interaction in their lives.
  2. Man and woman – the second level of separation was between them. Whereas once they were not ashamed of their nakedness, now they wanted to cover themselves. For many couples, intimacy is rare and misunderstanding is prolific in any attempt to deeply communicate with one another.
  3. Child-birth – the next level of separation, for the woman, was separation from the enjoyment of one of the most precious events of her life, giving birth to a new child. Now it was attached to pain.
  4. Dominance – again for the woman even though she would have an intense attachment to her man, he would domineer and rule her. As a result, many women are abused in place of the intimacy and romance they desire in their relationship with their husbands.
  5. Work – for the man he would know only frustration in the work of his hands. Work would be hard and accompanied with pain. Finally he would return to the very dust from which he had been made. For many, work is a drudge to be endured not enjoyed and they carry into retirement a sense of failure and worthlessness.

The Genesis story is pretty accurate in its description of some significant areas of our life which could be better. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but outline key areas where independence from God creates significant levels of separation in our lives. However, there are two additional levels of separation indicated by the place of the serpent in the story, who has traditionally represented Lucifer who was once the Archangel in charge of worship and praise.

  1. Worship – as a result of his fall from heaven and our independence from God, humanity was separated from the joy of worshiping and praising God. It explains the difficulty we have in coming to worship and the contention that occurs in many churches over the form of that worship.
  2. Glory – the final other area of separation was from participation in the glory of God. The decision to act independently from God was aimed at grabbing God’s glory apart from God. As a result the participation in that glory was lost. It is the reason that the serpent is condemned to crawl along the ground – falling from the heights of the kingdom of God to the dust of the earth.

Paul notes that each and every one of the barriers, that have arisen in our lives because of these areas of separation, have been torn down by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He writes: “for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).

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Issue 14: Who is the Son of Man?


In Mark 13:24-27 Jesus speaks of the coming of the Son of Man in clouds with great power. The term “the Son of Man” is used in the New Testament only in the Gospels and once in the Acts of the Apostles. In the Gospels, it is used only by Jesus to refer to himself and his mission, and once by the crowd who wanted to know what the term meant.

Although the disciples, after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, used a number of Messianic terms to refer to Jesus, including Son of God, Messiah or Christ, Lord, and son of David, they never used the term “the Son of Man” in reference to Jesus’ ministry, personhood and mission. That is, the term was Jesus’ own personal reference to refer to whom He was and what He had come to do.

At the same time, Jesus rejected or minimised certain Messianic terms used by the various Jewish factions to describe their expectation of the coming Messiah. Jesus refused to take up the political role of one sent from God to deliver the nation of Israel from her enemies, especially the Romans.

Rather, Jesus came to do God’s will and purpose which was far broader than simply saving the Jewish nation from its enemies. Jesus came for all nations and all peoples. Jesus uses the term the Son of Man to refer to his own ministry in three ways:

  • the (present) earthly Son of Man – the miracles, work and teaching He did in Galilee and Jerusalem;
  • the suffering Son of Man; and
  • the eschatological (future) or coming Son of Man.

It is through these three different types of sayings that Jesus’ unique interpretation of the motif the Son of Man, is expressed. Jesus succinctly combines the use of the Son of Man motif with the Suffering Servant motif from such passages as Isaiah 53. Both of these motifs had already existed in Judaism at that time, but were never used together. The first evoked a sense of exaltation with the Son of Man riding upon the clouds, and the other evoked a sense of deepest humiliation with the concept of a suffering Messiah. Jesus fulfilled the second by dying on the cross for our sin and rising from the dead so we could have new life. He fulfills the first in His coming again riding upon the clouds.

The combination of these two terms suggests the meaning of the term that Jesus’ uses to describe His mission and purpose. Although the Jewish nation held a special place in God’s purpose, Jesus did not come to fulfill only the Jewish Messianic expectations of the Messiah. The Son of Man motif carries with it a much broader meaning and application. It identifies the purpose of the Coming One that goes far beyond Jewish Messianic expectations and the redemption of the Jewish community of faith, to the redemption of all human beings through the Son of Man.

Moltmann, in The of Way of Christ notes: “The messiah is a historical figure of hope belonging to nation, space and time (i.e. the Jewish nation). The Son of Man is a figure of expectation for all nations; he is above the world, because he overcomes the world.”

Although Jesus’ mission began with Israel, it did not stay there. It is, thus, through Christianity that Israel pervades the world of the Gentile nations with a messianic hope for the coming of God to all peoples.

The second aspect of this passage in Mark’s Gospel refers to the coming of tribulation or days of trouble with the sun darkened, the moon giving no light, and the stars falling. It is at such a time that the Son of Man is to come. However, what should the church, the people of God, be doing during the lead up to such times?

Jesus notes that before the coming of the Son of Man the gospel will be preached to all nations (Mark 13:10). The Church will be working full on, 24/7, to proclaim the gospel to every nation, to take it to all peoples, so that all can hear the good news of the redemption of the whole world through God’s Messiah – Jesus of Nazareth.

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Issue 13: Faith – The Challenge of Unbelief


The second half of Luke 4 tells the story of Jesus’ visit to his own home village of Nazareth. He entered the synagogue and read one of the messianic passages from the Book of Isaiah that outlines the activity of the Messiah. It read:

A Scroll

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD
(Isaiah 61:1-2)

When he finished the reading he handed back the book to the attendant and said: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus here claims to be fulfilling this particular prophecy of Isaiah. Whether the congregation understood clearly enough the claim he made is uncertain because they all started commenting on the eloquence of his speech and that he was Joseph’s son, whom they had watch grow up into the very nice, balanced person whose fame had come back to them from work he had done abroad.

Rather than basking in this paternalistic praise Jesus moves to provoke them by suggesting that they will reject His words because of their familiarity with him. Such familiarity should not be relied upon because God in the past had often gone outside of Israel to support his prophets when the nation was in disobedience to God’s will and purpose (he notes the story of the widow from Zarephath, in the time of Elijah and the healing of Naaman the Syrian in the time of Elisha). The crowd in the synagogue became enraged at these words and dragged Jesus out of the synagogue up the hill to throw him off the cliff. However, Jesus slipped through their fingers and went on his way.

Although Luke indicates that this praise, even though paternalistic, did not yet have the antagonism in it that latter came when Jesus continued his words, Matthew’s rendition notes that this praise itself was already antagonistic (Matthew 13:53-58). Both Matthew and Mark note that the source of their antagonism was unbelief. Because of that Jesus was unable to do many, if any, miracles in his own home town.

For Jesus, their familiarity, with its paternalistic praise, stood as a barrier to their ever truly hearing his words or understanding his teaching. He provoked them further in order to move them from the comfort of their unbelief to struggle to find faith again, and with it new hope. We are often challenged by unbelief in our daily life and circumstances. Jesus will often disturb our peace so that we might once again struggle with faith to find new hope in our lives. The writer to the Hebrews not only tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”, but that “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:1,4).


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Issue 12: Faith – Responding to God’s Request

In 1 Kings 17 there is the story of the prophet Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. A great famine had come upon the land of Israel, due to Elijah’s prayers. God was demonstrating through Elijah that God was Lord; not Baal whose followers believed controlled the weather. During this period, God told Elijah to go to Zarephath, because there God had commanded a widow to provide food and shelter for him during the time of the famine.

A Loaf of BreadYou would expect two things from such instructions. First, that the widow would be someone who had the resources to look after Elijah during the famine – thus she would be someone rich and influential. However, when Elijah arrives he finds a woman who, although she may have been well off in the past, had no resources with which to look after him. She only had enough flour left to make one more meal for her son and herself before they would die of starvation. Not only did she not have the resources herself, she had no way of finding such resources elsewhere. Whatever influence she may have had in the past was far gone from her current situation.

Second, you would have thought that God would have told the woman herself that he was sending a prophet to her to provide him with shelter and food. However, there is no indication in the story that the woman was aware of such a command before Elijah requested from her food and water. When Elijah requested food from her, she explained her plight and heavily noted that she did not have enough flour for her son and herself to provide food beyond their next and final meal. Elijah tells her to make food for him anyway and then for her son and herself. He finishes this instruction with a promise from God that the jar of flour and oil would not run out until the famine was over. That is exactly what happened. The jar of flour and oil did not run out until the famine was finished.

A number of thoughts come from this story. The first is that God’s call or command to us might not necessarily come before the occasion for its enactment. That is, Elijah’s request and promise instigated God’s command in this widow’s life. Despite her difficulties, this woman was sensitive enough to hear God’s command and promise, as the prophet spoke those words, and to know that in this simple instruction there was now a glimmer of hope for the future. The second is that once the command came, with its slight glimmer of hope, she responded in faith and acted upon God’s word. I am sure that she had often prayed that God would send her help. I am also sure she expected that someone would arrive with food to help her out. Instead, someone arrived asking her for food. However, in the prophet’s request and promise she sensed the hand of God at work in her life to save her from her difficulties. The third is she had to act in faith and provide the prophet with food before the promise would come. If she had turned Elijah away that day then she would probably have died, along with her son. Often God’s answer to our need comes in the form of a request for us to act for God or others, despite our difficulties. When we do that, His miracle-working power comes into play.

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Issue 11: Effects of Disengagement Part 4 – Your Perspective on Life

This week we touch on its impact upon our perspective of life. Your perspective on life is fundamentally linked to who you are! Who you are determines the lens or eyeglass through which you see life. John Maxwell, in Winning with People, notes that who you are determines:

  • What you see
  • How you see others
  • How you view life
  • What you do

Who you are does not remain static. You do not remain the same person year after year, decade after decade. Maxwell notes that who you are is determined by:

  • Genetics – your family back ground
  • Self-image
  • Experiences of life
  • Attitudes and choices about those experiences
  • Friends

Jesus said to his disciples that in this world you will have trouble. Most people I now agree that Jesus was pretty right about that – in this world we have trouble .

Well how have you fared?

Have troubles depleted who you are or added to who you are? Have they been the springboard to a lesser you – are you more bitter, resentful, untrusting, insensitive, uncaring, inflexible or impatient? Have you given up on humanity because of past hurts and experiences? OR have they been the springboard to a greater you – are you more compassionate, loving, caring, kind, sensitive or patient? We need to understand that disengagement and the things that provoke disengagement deplete who we are, whereas, engagement, despite the things that provoke us, add to who we are and make us better people as a result.

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