July 09- Most recent posts- the seven challenges to Leadership- and yes ihave encountered them all...

I am not so sure that the authors have done anything remarkably isolated to leadership. These are challenges everyone commonly faces if one lives long enough this side of the fall. I’ve faced them in cycles, or perhaps in a spiralling fashion. Once you think you’re beyond their reach, that’s the time you’ll get subtly smitten by their poison.

1. Complacency- Whenever I have ventured into this type of wilderness, God has seen fit to jolt me out of it, whether by my choice or His. I have always sought new challenges proactively, and my so-called Midian experience was a prolonged time when I was forced to remain in a situation in order to build spiritual muscles I was lacking- I could not have been complacent if I tried that time. I am rarely bored, as I know how powerful this challenge can be encountered in all areas of life. Settling in and doing business is one thing…settling for is another. Comfort zones can leave you warm, fuzzy, and useless. It’s important to rock the boat for others as well.

2. Loss of compassion and conviction. I struggled with compassion as a young man until the Lord used my wife’s ministry to refugees and the disabled to jolt me into a reckoning of reality. Then I struggled with a lack of compassion for people whom I thought should “do better”. Identification with others has been a hard won battle through hard circumstances that God has used to humble and help me identify with others on levels I could never have planned for as a young man. Compassion is best identified in the deep, the places where you’ve come to be crucified with Christ and lived to tell about it. This is the true measure of a Christian’s heart. Conviction is the fruit of compassion; without compassion conviction is dangerous.

3. Personal growth and mentorship. An agricultural model is a good way to look at your own growth. Are others being nurtured by the fruit you bear. I have been sought out as a mentor by several men, and I have complied. I prefer to refer to this discipleship, or just as sitting together at Jesus’ feet and learning to let him be THE mentor. On one occasion, I had a leader condescend to grace me with his mentoring expertise. His lack of humility and teachableness irked me, especially since there were other men in that situation who had already taken me humbly under their wings and were pointing me to Christlike character and attitudes by their examples. Spiritual hierarchies can be hurtful, in my opinion as is making someone your personal project. Iron sharpening iron is a two-way consideration. I’ve been in such a relationship on three occasions. The Lord generated the relationship naturally, and the partings have been naturally blessed as well. It is a costly but blessed enterprise.
Anthony Foster - Jul 1, 2007 7:50 pm (25.7)
Pt . 2

4. Comparison.
My biggest problem with comparison has been with my own feeling that I was not meeting my own potentials and expectations, wondering whether the Master would say to me “well done, good and faithful servant”(Mt 25:21). I’ve been in a servant leadership role with men who I would not consider servants, and I fear I have made comparisons on that level. I grew up with the stigma of being the son of a sharecropper (who was a remarkable man) in a fairly affluent environment so I learned early on not to compare, but to be satisfied that I was going to be held to accountability for what God had given me and that we all put our pants on the same way- one leg at a time. It is also impossible to see the motivations of others hearts, and that is a key factor in determining true worth in God’s economy.

5. Teams. The team concept is all important in Kingdom terms. Yet teams are made of frail children of dust. I have struggled mainly in the area of pulling the plug on pseudo-team members who want to align with the goal but are wanting in the productivity area. I am told I am the most patient person people know on a regular basis, but I admit I fully know that I am not in my soul (ask my wife!) I have a difficult time with people who claim allegiance to a team yet have no passion for the work. I also have problems with sponges who soak up the nurture year after year and stagnate due to their unwillingness to be wrung out; they stink. Teams are a challenge. When you can celebrate small victories together it all seems worthwhile. I find volunteer teams easier to manage as in a hiring situation, so much is left to impressions. I hate firing a team member, but can when necessary for the good of the team.

6. Time, priorities, and relationships. This is the biggest struggle, as I am constantly having to rearrange priorities. I am a good manager, but no good deed goes unpunished. I had to realize I am not superman, and the tyranny of the good can keep you from God’s best. In spite of having committed as a young man to never make a decision that would mean that I would grow apart from my spouse has borne much fruit- but it never gets easy. I don’t travel unless she can go with me. It takes constant vigilance. I have not arrived, but have made lots of decisions that make my life less complicated than others who struggle with this.

7. Character. One always has to be intentional about bearing the peaceable fruit of righteousness. We are born on a battlefield. One must be constantly wary of rationalizing situations that can lead to character compromise. I try to keep it simple but the world we are called to be salt and light in is a messy place. It is especially necessary to learn to be a great believer in “fleeing” situations. That’s not a cop out or being cowardly- it is good spiritual sense. Trusting God for your character, making it a constant point of prayerfulness, is necessary lest the devil eat your lunch. Never feel you have arrived. Our character is a reflection on the God we serve- His character will shape ours.

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From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/