Choosing Low Leaders


Yesterday I had the honor of giving an address to about 200 Pastors and leaders here in Tanzania in the moments leading up their selection of 5 new top leaders. I was asked to challenge the leaders to make decisions led of Spirit, and not other motivations. As I prepared, I felt strongly to focus on some of the radical ideas I saw in Jesus instead of the famous 1 Tim and Titus lists of what you ought to be to lead. I think it would be brilliant if more focus was given to the radically different ideas about leadership that Jesus modeled. It is so obvious to me that culture and “world” have won the day on defining leadership. Makes me sad. What a missed opportunity for the church to show the way.


Here is how I encouraged them to select new leaders. Maybe you will also appreciate the thoughts.


Choose JESUS type leaders who…


  1. Know they are NOT in charge (or the head) and knows that JESUS IS! Jesus is the Author, perfecter and cornerstone! Seems Jesus modeled this well in looking always to Father.
  2. Are weak and broken, not strong. Paul got it! Jesus clearly got it! Pick leaders that are honest about their brokenness, not hiders. (There are 2 types of people on earth. Broken and showing it OR Broken and hiding it).
  3. Include, not exclude. As soon as it is about who is IN and who is OUT, we miss the point of the gospel. Not to mention, the unqualified people Jesus chose as his core. None were ordained, or even “saved” for that matter.
  4. Has a sending, not a following. A giver of people, not a collector. Who cares how many people are looking UP TO or AT the leader, I care about who is sent OUT from the leader to transform earth.
  5. Exercises power UNDER, not power OVER. Power over leads people 5 feet down to the floor. Power under can send them to space for the Kingdom!
  6. Are known as slaves of others, not leaders of others. We have over-emphasized leadership without a Biblical leg to stand on. We already have a King!

It's My Fault


Our family spent five special years in South Africa before we moved to Tanzania. There we learned a fair amount about culture. I remember learning the hard lessons that Africans weren't lying to me, the were protecting our relationship that meant so much to them. I learned that Afrikaaners weren't all racist, they were facing significant fear of losing everything they've known. These and other learnings take time and insight. All in all, SA was easy as far as cross-cultural assignments go. Tanzania is a different ball game. 

I thought I would share the most helpful cultural lesson/tool I've discovered in our 8 months here. Of course, we get frustrated about things. Culture can grind us. A trip into town can bring out our ugliness easier than we'd want to admit. But here's the story that is helping me walk in grace and love Tanzania more each day....

It's my fault. It's my problem to deal with. It's my issue to overcome. We moved HERE. We are outsiders and we are responsible for doing the adjusting and changing, NOT Tanzanians.  

  • When I order beef and get goat, it's my fault. Better brush up on my vocab.  
  • When we are supposed to meet at 1, and they arrive at 1:50, it's my problem. Remember how it works here for some folks.  
  • When someone says they'll call me later and never do, relax. Learn to read the signs better...maybe they weren't as interested as you thought...or ran out of airtime. 
  • When you've tried 3 different ways of asking for something at the store and they still take you to the wrong fault. Better figure out what they call it here.  
  • When you let one car turn in front of you, and a stream of 25 follows against your will, smile and wave. This isn't the USA. My problem. 
  • And the list goes on.  

But, when I remind myself whose problem this is, it allows me to keep a pure and loving heart toward my host culture instead of blaming them when we miss each other, and it keeps me postured as a learner, in humility, which is perhaps the number one requirement for success in a foreign context.  

So, if you plan to spend time in another culture, put this to work. It'll take you far. If you'd rather get angry at "these people" for how they live, I'll say what they want to..."GO BACK HOME if we are so frustrating to you."

Leave Jesus out of this


Jesus initiated and announced a most fascinating kingdom… A society with characteristics completely different from what the people in his day had ever experienced. That kingdom has been expanding ever since, and to this day it is still completely upside down, refreshing, attractive and unlike any other kingdom or society. The Jesus way teaches us wild things like:

  • Include the kids, even act like them.  
  • Love people as you would yourself.  
  • Love your enemies.  
  • Pray for those against you.  
  • Give people what they ask for or more. 
  • Include the excluded.  
  • Accept the rejected.  
  • Deny your rights and privileges. 
  • Sacrifice for the other.
  • Lay your life down. name a few. So revolutionary. It's why Jesus continues to be sought after by billions. And it's clear that these principles and values apply to people (individuals) who want to join the Jesus way. 

But I have a growing question in my heart over the last months, a question that is even more pressing since my new President, Donald Trump gave his inaugural address Friday. 

Do the Jesus principles, teachings and values apply to communities or groups that identify as "Christian"? Or are they just for individuals? Is there another set of rules for "Christian" groups?  

And what happens when a group/community or nation, teaches and embodies the opposite of what Jesus announced? Then, what are they? Still Christian? 

Let me be clear, I don't mind if they call themselves something else. I don't even mind if they ARE something else. It's been years since I stopped believing in such things as "Christian Nations"! In fact, I have way more respect if you're just honest about who you are and what you are. I just mind when groups or nations that don't act Christian call themselves Christian. Call yourself what you are. Not what you're not. 

So, to be clear, the following ideas are not Jesus ideas: 

  • Us first!  
  • Our safety is our priority.
  • Remove anyone who is a threat.  
  • Illegals, get out.  
  • Keep our guns.  
  • Empower the military.  
  • Reject or control gay people.  
  • Beware of Muslims.  
  • Kill off ISIS 
  • We need more money.  
  • Relationship only as it benefits us.  
  • Don't purchase or hire from others.  
  • Us first!  

You, or any group, including America, is welcome to believe in these things. Just don't call them Christian. It's killing me. And I'd rather there be zero prayers at an event celebrating these things. Having six prayers or quoting the Bible multiple times does absolutely nothing to make a group become "Christian" or their values become "Christlike".  If Jesus isn't invited into the party, don't tease everyone by putting him on the front of the invitations. Just leave Jesus out of this. Stop attaching him to things he doesn't stand for. 

There. I said it. Have been dying to get this off my chest, and then I remembered I had a blog!  Cheers!