Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The new guy in town

"I'm so nervous. The new guy doesn't know us. Is my job is secure?" All of us at one time or another have negotiated new relationships as hirelings. For those in ministry, a new senior pastor can be good or bad news for the existing team. The entire ministry team used to resign and leave when the senior pastor left, but in today's megachurches, it's not practical to have every administrative chief ousted when the boss leaves. Sometimes the knee-jerk of fear and insecurity comes from middle management, creating dysfunction as it trickles down the ranks. 

According to the Bible, Joseph enjoyed power and prestige, protecting his family with as an influencer and top executive. His boss, the Pharaoh of Egypt, let Joseph choose the area in which his family lived, feed them from the royal storehouses, and otherwise privilege them with the best of the land. Joseph's family grew, had many children, and came to the notice of a subsequent Pharaoh: 

   Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. He said to his people, 'Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don't, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.' (Exodus 1:8–10 NLT) 

Insecure leaders fear the power of others. Rather than promoting and including those who could help them succeed, such leaders undercut and restrict them. Poor Pharaoh! He could have had an entire people group working for him. Instead, he made a decision based on the small thinking of a control freak, setting a precedent that ruined his nation's future:

   Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: 'When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.' But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king's orders. They allowed the boys to live, too. … So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. (Exodus 1:15–17, 20–21 NTL)

God rewarded the women who disobeyed the ruler and obeyed him. Meanwhile, Israel experienced 80 more years of slavery and oppression, but the obedience of the midwives brought about the birth of the boy who would lead the uprising against the oppressors. The years flow by in our reading of the first few chapters of Exodus. Yet three more generations of Israelites suffered and died under cruel and impossible work loads.

Corrupt leaders have always disregarded and subdued the weak. No one people group seems to have a premium on domination. Their Israelite story of hopelessness and grief has resonated with those more recently been enslaved, like the feudal peasants of medieval Europe, centuries of Muslim slaves of Africa and Asia, African descendents brought to the Americas in C17-19, and refugees around the world today.

If you're the "new guy/gal in town," be sure you and your executives are continually releasing the people who work for them, not enslaving or restricting their best ideas and talents. All the fancy gadgets and hardware money can buy won't replace sound relationships, good will, and the eager flow of assistance from employees and volunteers who are valued and rewarded for their hard work!

Attempts at control and suppression (like Pharaoh) not only prevent a church or company from achieving its full potential, but foreshadow ruin and God's judgment in the future. After all, it is God who gives the increase in numbers, vision, and gifting among workers to help the whole organization move forward with health, wisdom, and energy.

Read more:
*Wisdom has built her house; she has carved its seven columns. She has prepared a great banquet, mixed the wines, and set the table. She has sent her servants to invite everyone to come. She calls out from the heights overlooking the city. "Come in with me," she urges the simple.  To those who lack good judgment, she says, "Come, eat my food,  and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live; learn to use good judgment." Proverbs 9:1–6 NLT

*Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, "I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don't want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way."

The disciples replied, "Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?"

Jesus asked, "How much bread do you have?"

They replied, "Seven loaves, and a few small fish." Matthew 15:32–34 NLT

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