Thursday, April 26, 2012

My hero Jeffery Portmann and other things I learned at Network Conference

"Jeffery, we're going to skip your report, if that's okay with you." The Network Superintendent was trying to stay within the schedule at the annual Washington/N. Idaho district business meeting. "I know you're prepared, but we're running out of time. Can we just say, 'It's all good?' You're doing a great job."

The network youth director nodded, smiled, and stayed in his front-row seat while he was passed over so other could give their reports.

Above all the things that I saw and heard at the regional conference, Jeffery's gracious submission to leadership has stayed with me. If you or I had prepared a summary of our year's work, would we feel sidelined? Would we be gracious and submit to a leadership decision rather than being upset?

We watched Jeffery model humility and graciousness. Both the Superintendent and Jeffery exhibited a high degree of trust: the leader knew his coworker well enough to risk offending him by cutting his time. The director trusted his supervisor to make decisions based on overall goals. It was obvious that Jeffery understands the respect his leadership team has for his work and doesn't feel a need to prove himself before a larger audience. I salute you, Jeffrey, as the servant-leader of Christ for hundreds of youth pastors in our region.

What else I learned:
  • We arguably have the best AG leadership team in the USA. After 10 years in the same post, the Supt., the Assistant Supt., and the rest of the team work in harmony even when negotiating details. They arbitrate decisions based on pastoral and missional goals. They present a united front when leading and teaching others. 
  • Because the team is respectful of each other and united in purpose, they can focus on helping pastors and churches thrive. (On the website, the team is listed by alphabetical rather than hierarchical order. That says something right there...) It's easy to respect leaders who don't hog the spotlight but let others shine. They showcased some bright lights from the network!
  • Councils or conferences are really fun with good leadership that has its done homework to prepare for smooth elections and business sessions.
  • A theme helps unify information, education, and other interactions (="multiplication" this year).
  • It's fantastic to have likeable leaders. The best leadership grows in the combination of spiritual disciplines, godly authority, and a love of God and people.
  • It's easy to follow and submit to leaders who wholeheartedly follow and submit to God. Role models are easier to mimic than lectures and ideas.
  • Gracious hosts pay attention to details. New Life in Renton recruited a slough of volunteers and staff helpers who made us feel welcome at their facility.
  • Missionaries are passionate about reaching people for Christ. Their zeal is contagious.
  • Wonderful to see 22 people ordained, 9 of them Children's Pastors.
  • Repeating a phrase several times in a sermon emphasizes an idea, even when the intention was to distance self from the idea. (Saying, "I'm not ... XorY" 4X makes people think, "Is he actually XorY and just covering that up?")
  • Between us, W & I know--and like--many people in ministry. It was fun seeing you all: students, alumni, coworkers, and friends!

Read more:
*May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.

*The righteous are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. Psalm 1:3

*May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests. Psalm 20:1-5 NIV

*You will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:16

Moravian Prayer: Dear God, in this time of spring when the earth shows new growth, help us to grow in love and witness to you in the world around us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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