Great leaders are always growing and learning. They read regularly. They watch attentively. They ask important questions and they listen to wise counsel. I’ve always been a student of great leaders, and have allowed the wisdom and paths of those leaders to shape me personally as I lead and mentor others. I continue to discover that this forming and shaping has not only impacted my leadership style, but also my personhood—the way I see myself in relation to God and how I respond in my relationships with other people. Growing in wisdom and being secure in my own identity is what allows me to lead and love well. Security and safety are great confidence builders. They’re like rocket fuel that energizes us to give generously of our time, resources, and talents.
I have several human trafficking engagements this month. To prepare for them, I recently completed a reading of Justice Awakening: How You and Your Church Can Help End Human Trafficking by Eddie Byun. Byun references Dr. Timothy Keller when defining the word justice. It means: 1.) treating people well, 2.) giving people what is due them, 3.) righteousness and right living in community or the right use of power, and 4.) care for the vulnerable and poor (27). I love these definitions because they echo the writings of the prophet Isaiah, and because they remind us that justice is something we learn and work at with the help of God.
I love this book because it begins where I like to begin by talking about God’s heart for justice. Good theology first begins with God. I like to challenge readers here to think deeper about what it means to live as a Christian, to follow Christ, and to engage rightly in the world. When I use words like “theology,” I am simply referring to what we know or how we think about God. These conclusions are best drawn from the Bible, and impacts the way we relate to each other and how we take responsibility for the earth we have been charged to steward.
I am slowly recovering from a spring and summer that has been full of travel, speaking engagements, and new initiatives. Between April and the August, I found myself going from one key initiative to another. My family and I knew this season was coming and prepared for it as best we could, and now I am seeking to intentionally finish well and wrap up all of the projects from that time. For me, that also includes entering a time of prayerful reflection as I document the many lessons God was teaching me, and particularly how he wants these experiences to shape me going forward. I’m entering a time of reassessing priorities and focus, and asking, “Where do I need change?”
It is evident to me on so many levels—my personal life and ministry, the church, culture, and the world—that God is constantly calling us to change. Oftentimes, a leader’s responsibility is to initiate change or manage the change that is in motion. The challenge of a mentor is often convincing their mentees, and even themselves, to take risks or not be afraid of change. Whether we decide to remain comfortable and plant our feet firmly where we are, or whether we decide to move forward and try something different will drastically shape the trajectory of our lives, ministry, communities, and work. If we are truly going to lead in this world as faith leaders, and mentor others to lead well, then we must be willing to take risks even when we are uncertain of the outcomes.