April 2009

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042I am often asked about the best steps in developing young leaders. My answer normally astounds people. “First, Listen!”

 

Leaders by nature and gifting are endowed with hopes and dreams for a healthier and more caring society. Embedded deep inside of them is a burning desire to help others and see change for the better. Brokenness and despair trouble them profoundly. Anger over matters of injustice, sloth, abuse, indifference, disease, and greed troubles their waking hours and disturbs their sleep patterns. The status quo is not acceptable as they hunger and thirst to see the goodness of God in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

 

What do these people need most? Not someone to come and tell them what to do or how things are done in our land or to offer a seminar on leadership. Instead they need someone to listen to them. They need a discerning and caring ear, one who draws out their hopes and dreams. In the process the young leader is affirmed, honing vision and building courage to articulate the treasure that is buried inside of his/her soul.

 

This week, I listened to three young leaders of Rwanda who are dreaming of a New Generation for a New History. They see the day when Hutus and Tutsis, young and old, and men and women will live together in unity in diversity. They are in faith breathing the air of freedom when the citizens live in solidarity. They are convinced that someday their nation will no longer seek help from other nations but instead will be peaceful and prosperous, generously contributing to the development of other nations.

 

How do I know this? I took the time to listen to their hearts. I let them tell me what causes their hearts to beat fast and their eyes to be wild with excitement. This is the first step in building leaders who will rebuild nations. Listen today to another. You’ll never know what you may discover; you may be used as an instrument in bringing the goodness of God into the land of the living.

 

As I write this message, I want to introduce you to Kevin and Renée Napier who are joining Breakthrough Partners. The requests for our time multiply weekly. We need to increase our capacity. Kevin and Renée are great listeners and know how to build leaders who will give themselves to rebuild broken communities. You will want to get to know them through the bios posted on our website.

Gary Edmonds

african-boy-w-bibleOne of the great needs in our world is Wisdom. What should I do today that will be good for tomorrow? How do I navigate the unknown without experience? 

 

When Jesus was only twelve years old, Luke 2:52 affirms that he was developing in wisdom. He knew how to live in the present for long term benefit. He had a perspective on life that transcended his experience. His discernment of what was good for today was not guided by feelings, hunger for instant gratification or the latest trend. If only the same were true of our kids or, indeed, ourselves.  

How do we get wisdom? How do hungry Rwandans recovering from genocide live wisely to benefit their nation? How do unemployed Americans live with a Kingdom of God perspective? Let me offer three thoughts.

  • Fear God! Remember that there is an ultimate judge of the whole of your life. Learn and apply the principles and values of the Kingdom of God that will stand the test of time. Pragmatic decisions that simply align us to modern trends and short term gains will be exposed and found wanting. In wisdom, apply a Biblical worldview.

  • Seek the well-being of all! Test what you are doing by asking, “Is it good for all?” Unwise decisions are made by those thinking only of themselves or their organizational greatness. Much unwise mission activity is produced as we seek our own success rather than everyone’s benefit. We see that when one church or mission grows disproportionately larger than others in a community, the result is disastrous. The large organization consumes the community’s resources, like a cancerous cell, leading to its death. God created the world and its creatures and called them “good.” Let goodness be your desired outcome. In wisdom, realize that you may need to govern your own growth so that all may develop.

  • Think multiple generations! “And the things that you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2) The apostle Paul was thinking out four generations. Changing the course of history requires that future generations take the baton and build on the leg of the race that we have run. Play your role well. In wisdom, build the next generation. Transfer a vision that will go beyond your own contributions. 

 

Gary Edmonds

rwanda-nov-2008-139

  Breakthrough Partners works in nations where there is long-term brokenness. From generation to generation, pain, suffering and dysfunction are repeated. The sins and ignorance of the fathers are passed on to their children so that good intentions are never realized in the culture. What is required to change the trajectory of a person, a family, even a nation?

 

In the next weeks, I’d like to look at some of the key ideas and principles that we have been learning over the past 30+ years that when applied can actually change the course of history for a people.

 

Ultimately, change starts with the individual. A culture is the sum of the parts and patterns of its members. If the people are sick and operating in dysfunctional processes, the society will be ill and toxic.

 

Doctor Luke provides us with a great clue when he writes, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52)

 

Jesus grew and developed wholistically!

 

The first principle for change is to seek the comprehensive and wholistic well-being of the individual. Wisdom, physical health, spiritual depth and relational health are building blocks for cultural change. Each of these characteristics reflects patterns of behavior that will produce fruit. And note that they are interconnected. My sleep pattern will influence my spiritual health will influence my discernment will influence my social relationships. 

 

Are you developing in wisdom and physical health and in favor with God and men?

 

Gary Edmonds