Dr. Yaw Perbi, director of International Student Ministry Canada, shares some of the ways his team develops international leaders.
Talking about flights and airplanes, a story’s told of a flight from Accra, Ghana to the US – I think it was to New York – and then of course from New York everyone else was going to go wherever they were bound. And so this very arrogant young man – I think it was an international student, you know, because he had been to America thinks he knows everything – saw this old lady on the flight. And he said, “Old lady, where are you off to?”
And she said, “Oh, I’m going to go visit my son in California.”
“Where about in California?”
And this woman said, “Oh, my son is in San Jose [J emphasized].”
And this – you know, young people think they know everything, right? And older people know they know nothing. So he said, “Oh, don’t say San Jose! You know, in America, the J’s are silent! So we say San Jose, not San Jose!”
So the old says, “Oh thank you very much, San Jose.”
“Good!” And so as they went on this young man then asked, “So, old lady, how long are you going to stay in San Jose?”
And the old lady says, “Mmm, young man from Hanuary to Huly.” Because the J’s are silent in America, so Hanuary to Huly.
What I want to do in this session is force you to look at a few bolts and nuts. I’m going to give you a few practical things you could do and I want to share the principles thereof. Not saying that you’re going to do exactly as I do. And I remember very well, Brother Elijah good to see you again, at ACMI last year in May he mentioned that “Be wary of any Christian organization that tells you, ‘We have the answer’ right? You know ‘We have the best way to – ‘” So we’re going to share some ways, some possible ways, that you can practically develop leaders. I’m going to show you what has worked. Because literally I can look at younger leaders that by God’s grace we’ve developed from A to Z, from Michelle in Australia to Tina in Zimbabwe, you know. So this is not theory, this works. And I’ll give you a couple of stories regarding that.
There are cross cultural issues you will deal with. For example, you talk about in some cultures is a leader – the leaders are supposed to be the older ones. And you have to deal with that mindset along the line. By the way, you know that I pastor a Chinese church. And one of the early cross cultural things I had had to deal with was when I’m a pastor and preaching in the English service that’s fine, but when I’m preaching at the Mandarin service, I hear nothing the whole service right? It’s all Mandarin apart from a few times when my senior pastor may explain what they are saying or what they are singing. And until I’m called to preach! And then I preach in English and it’s translated into Mandarin. But I noted the first few times they kept saying “nigga, nigga, nigga.” And I’m like, that’s so rude! Who’s this calling me “nigga”? I’m like, nigga? It was later on that I realized that was a Chinese expression for “like, like” so you know it wasn’t me. Alright, good.
So I want to look at easy ministry or strategic ministry. We’re losing part of the projection; I don’t know why. Easy ministry or strategic ministry. And the reason I put this up is that I find that as I travel the country and I look at my own staff, we’re really, really, really cozy in what we do in terms of “oh, let’s give them some food,” right? Oh, let’s give them hospitality. And it’s awesome! And it’s a must! You know, without love, nothing happens. And without food, a lot of things don’t happen here either. Right? So I absolutely agree that it’s important. But the question is, should we remain there? Should we remain there? And one of my staff – and I shared with my small group – one of my staff in Kamloops, the university, Thompson University – brings about 400 Saudi students yearly, sometimes just to study English! And so as we’re talking about developing leaders and the opportunity we had and all of that, it just dawned on him that there was a Cambodian student coming for his weekly meetings who was about to go back to Cambodia in 9 months and they hadn’t done anything, they hadn’t even touched on anything regarding leadership development. And what shocked him was that this student revealed to him that his father was in the government of Cambodia and he was going back to Cambodia into a government position. All of a sudden my staff was “what am I going to do? I have 9 months to make a leader!” You know, but that’s the reality of what we are dealing with, and how strategic this is. Some may not end up as Presidents or Prime Ministers but they may be the Dean of Engineering. You never know. I’m sure you’ve read the history books and you know that one of the brains behind the Pearl Harbor bombing used to be an international student. Did you know that? And he had experience, a very terrible time here in America, so he hated Americans with his guts. You have those experiences. You never know what they’re going to turn out to be. In Ethiopia we talk about Mengistu Haile Mariam who, in his time, a lot of people, about 2 million Ethiopians died. We talk about he killed Haile Selassie and whatnot - he was an international student. He was in Maryland and experienced racial discrimination, that was it. It did it for Americans and anything American. He turned to Marxism and the rest is history.
So the hospitality’s important, the friendship is important, but the question is, are we going to stop there? Okay. Yeah, I always look for an excuse to put my family up. That’s my lovely wife and our three children. We want to have seven so we’re almost halfway. But I put this up because several times I have to leave them because duty calls. And I put that quote up, “arms of Ghana” up there because one day in 2012, I think it was May, I had – I don’t know whether to call it an epiphany – I was invited by the government of Ghana to consult for them on how to harness the young people for national development. And so here I am sitting, sorry, standing at the podium speaking to a group of people televised live on national television, broadcast to other places in the world and all of that. And it just occurred to me. The Holy Spirit just said, look at the high table. And so I looked at the high table, I looked at all the dignitaries that were sitting there, and I had a moment I’ll never forget. Because all of a sudden it dawned on me that the ministers of state that were sitting there were all my colleagues. We were in school together, we were in university together. And what gave me the chills was that nobody had taught us jack about leadership! And all of a sudden these guys were in charge of the destinies of 24 million people. Wow.
And I began to think, why don’t we intentionally grow leaders? Because you see, there are some things that unless you are taught you would never know. Did you know that unless you were taught – and I had a newscaster make that mistake – that Bill Clinton used to be the governor of Arkansas you would say Arkansas [emphasized “sas”]? You have to be taught that it’s Arkansas. People make blunders here and there because there are certain things about leadership that unless you are taught you will never know. It’s amazing how you need a license to practice law, or to practice medicine, nursing, you name it. You even need a license to drive. But you don’t need a license to lead. And as far as I’m concerned, leadership is more important than surgery. You can kill one person at a time when you’re a surgeon. But when you’re a leader, you can wreck nations. And we see the former international student from Switzerland doing that right now. Who was it? Who was it? Who was on his compass who was supposed to reach out to him? May it not be you. May it not be that one day you hear the news and say, “Oh, this student of mine is now the Prime Minister of whatever and is now causing a mess” and you’re like “Oh Lord! I had my chance.” Are we going to do easy ministry or are we going to strategic ministry?
You heard from the testimony that it’s not going to be easy and that’s why a lot of us ran away from leadership development! It’s not easy. After three and a half years of leadership development Jesus was ready to throw in the towel! He said, “For how long must I be with you guys?” He said, “You still don’t get it?” And in fact, instead they jostled each other and said, “Who’s going to be first, who’s going to be Prime Minister?” It’s not an easy process because embedded in the leadership development process is discipleship itself. In fact, if we have done discipleship properly we shouldn’t be distinguishing between discipleship and leadership. Really! But we haven’t! Just like we have all these pseudo-funny kinds of Christians, so we have to say, “Oh he’s a Christian. Oh no, he’s actually a ‘born again Christian’.” What should be the difference? A Christian is a Christian. But again, now because we haven’t done discipleship the way we should, now we have to distinguish the two. But really it should be one and the same thing because you cannot develop a leader without discipling them. And you should not disciple someone without the end goal being that he or she will be an influencer. A leader. That’s what leadership it; it’s not about positions, it’s about influence.
You see, I talk about easy ministry or strategic ministry because – and I show this slide to my staff all the time because – ISM, God has made ISM in his wisdom, God has made ISM so simple. And I think Lisa was talking about it yesterday, about how God has given us low hanging fruit. Never has missions been so easy. No visa, no transport, no inoculations, none of this stuff and you are a missionary. You don’t even leave America and you’re a missionary. It’s awesome! In fact, no, I had a friend who had to spend two years in France learning French before he had to go to the mission field in Mali. Now you don’t even need to learn Chinese or learn French, they actually are begging you, “Can we learn English?” I mean, missions has never been easier as it were! We literally have low hanging fruit. Jesus said, “Go to the nations” – I guess we did not go enough, he has brought the nations to us. We have low – we don’t even need any expertise, just befriend them!
And a lot of times, that’s where it starts. I remember your [Brother Elijah] story very well. The family that took you in, that took care of you, you know, and you were still a Muslim. It took about 10 or so years before he came to faith but that love, that love began to open the door. That example began to open the door. I mean missions has never been easier! I sometimes feel like God is singing the song in Isaiah 5, that he sings the song about his vineyard. He says, “I did everything for my vineyard. You know? It was the best soil, it was the best species of vine, I put a hedge around it, I put up a tower, but my vineyard will not produce! What else am I going to do? Really?” So it’s an amazing – it’s a stunningly simple ministry. But again, this is the very reason why we might get stuck there. Because it’s so easy to do.
So in ISM-C for example (I don’t know why the arrows are not showing) we talk about this initial contact and genuine friendship. And indeed, the friendship must be genuine. Let’s not just add them to our numbers. I love the song I heard many years ago, it says don’t tell them Jesus loves them until you’re ready to love them too. For some they are just statistics, we just can’t wait to report our numbers. Initial contact (sorry about the arrows, I don’t know why they’re missing) there’s genuine friendship, there’s lifestyle evangelism, not just lifestyle, not just with our lips with our lives, but our lips as well, foundational discipleship, leadership training. This is a part that I find missing from a lot of our cycles. And there’s a reason why we made this a cycle and not a linear graph. Because in a lot of us, if you’ve been a Christian long enough you’ve been taught that somebody has to be saved, and after they are saved, they are discipled. And if you’re a bit more current, you say after they are discipled, they are trained to be leaders. But it doesn’t always work that way. Do you know there are people that get discipled before they are saved? Some of you look totally confused are like, “Oh Lord, what is this guy talking about?” True! When did his disciples get saved? I’ll leave you to think about that. You can write a whole thesis about it. But so look at it as a cycle rather than something linear. Well the point I’m making is that don’t leave this leadership training out. Don’t stop there. I’ve told my staff “Don’t do all the hospitality stuff, and all the evangelism, and all the discipleship stuff, and leave out the leadership development because leadership development must be intentional.” And as I show you some of the things that you must teach them, you begin to ask yourself, “How are they supposed to know that?” These are some of our staff at our last conference in June. And I notice there’s a huge difference in the dynamic. Most of my staff are much older. That’s the difference here. Here, most of the staff are much younger. So I think we need to do an exchange program! Give us all the young people and I’ll give you some of the older guys. So for ISM for a lot of, especially a lot of the older guys, they’ve done for 40 years in a particular way and all of a sudden this young man comes and says, “Hey, don’t just stop at evangelism and discipleship, let’s move to leadership development!” And they’re like aww. But that’s what we need to do! Because everything rises and falls on leadership. You’ll be amazed at how your chapters will grow if you focus on growing leaders. You’ll be amazed at how the gospel will spread if we’re focused on growing leaders. How our churches will expand. It’s not just easy ministry – we need to do strategic ministry.
This is an e-mail – and I picked part of it – I wanted to show you about three or four different e-mails. An e-mail I got from one of our people in Montreal. Now over Christmas we did something called Friends for Dinner, we invited international students to go to Christian homes for Christmas, Christmas Dinner. And Selene hosted a few of those, I think three or so Asians, South Asians, Southeast Asian students. And she sent me this e-mail because we’ve been talking about leadership development. And by the way, ISM-C doesn’t have all the answers. We’re also trying to figure out what’s the best way to do all this leadership development. So part of the e-mail said, “The students are interested in meeting again for the other activities, including food –“ nothing happens in North America without food, I’m telling you – “and are willing to be contacted personally by invitation, by Facebook. Leadership did not seem to relevant to them because they associate leadership with management in the secular world. The students are presently in science programs, they are more interested in learning the technical aspects of work.” So, and as she went on to say, “either with student leadership would like to be an active participant…would prefer a case study where they would interact with one another…they are less interested with a lecture on leadership, they prefer where they would need to come together and work out an answer, they’re interested in…” You can see they’re interested in meeting, becoming friends, etc, they’re interested in food, all of this, but who needs leadership? So part of the challenge actually is not only that we the midwives, many of us don’t see how relevant this all, most of us don’t see how relevant this is, are not sure how exactly to execute it, but some of the students themselves don’t even see what – leadership for what?
This is part of the challenge. But you see, the thing is, that it doesn’t matter how much science they learn. If there is no proper effective Godly leadership in their field, nothing happens. I had a man who died in my hospital when I was practicing. And up til now, I’m convinced it was not his disease that killed him. It was leadership that killed him. It wasn’t that the doctors didn’t know what to do. Nobody took leadership. That’s a mistake we make. It’s not just the technical stuff. Everything rides and falls on leadership.
So this is a real challenge, alright? But you see, God has given us such a strategically smart ministry because world influencers are right here. Billy Graham said, “You might be the person God uses to bring the next world leader into a relationship with Christ. You might be.” And you know, all these examples of presidents and prime ministers and other leaders who are, you know – I’m not even adding those who studied in Europe. These all studied in North America, mainly the United States. Alright? It gives me the chills. It gives me the chills. Including the first woman Prime Minister in the Muslim world. It gives me the chills. Because we do not know the end of the students who are in our care right now. Who’d have thought that she would become a Prime Minister? So are we going to do easy ministry or are we going to do strategic ministry?
I don’t know whether you’ve seen this quote before by Bill Wright. The first time I read this I thought that it was heresy. I had to really think about it and pray over it. It said, “Every soul is equally precious in God’s sight. But not every soul is equally strategic.” With the risk of sounding arrogant, you probably are the most strategic ministry in InterVarsity. I’ll explain.
In Acts chapter 8, Philip was having an awesome time in Samaria. Because every soul is equally precious in God’s eyes! If you’re the only one on earth Christ will still have come to die, we’ve heard all of that before. And the Bible actually talks about crowds that were being saved and people that were being healed and all this awesome stuff that was going on in Samaria. And then God, God, the God of strategy, the smartest ever, all immortal and invisible God only wise, God pulls Philip out of the crowds and says, “Philip! Go after one guy! Go after one international! Because he’s strategic.” So Philip listens to the Spirit of God and goes to this chariot and finds this finance minister of Ethiopia, he was the Queen Candice’s treasurer, reading Isaiah 53, had no clue what it meant, Philip explains the gospel, he gets saved, he’s baptized, and the Ethiopians will tell you that the start of the church in Ethiopia is linked to this guy. That is what I’m talking about! I’m not saying homeless ministry’s not important. I’m not saying it’s not important to do, to do, to take care of orphans or this or that. All that is important! But I’m talking about what is strategic! That’s how you need to start thinking! Because God is a God of strategy. Why didn’t God choose any other time to pour his Spirit down on Pentecost? Because he knew at Pentecost the nations will gather in Jerusalem. And so he lets his disciples speak in all these different languages so that people who came as far as Lybia could hear the gospel in their own language and from that crucible in Jerusalem he spread them out. That’s what he’s doing right now in America. That’s what he’s doing right now in Canada. Bring these nations here. And you see what he’s done? He’s bringing the brightest and the best! You don’t come here unless you are wealthy or you are brainy! It’s a select, a highly biased group! It’s the leaders that are coming here. Let’s not just do easy ministry. Let’s not thwart the God of strategy. He knows what he’s doing.
So I’m asking you – and I like you all to answer this question in your own groups, alright? – what is at the end of your pipeline? At the end of all the visions, the strategies, what is at the end? What do you want to produce? What do you want to produce? And you see, I want to use the example of ISM-C because, ISM-C’s mandate, our vision is actually this: to empower international students to impact the world through Jesus Christ. So right in the very ethos of the organization is that we want to produce world changers. We don’t say we want to make disciples – yes that’s awesome – but disciples who will turn the world upside down. And this is how I got in touch with ISM-C because this was their motto, this was their ethos, and yet they weren’t doing it. Oh, they were trying to do it. In fact, we started a conversation because Paul Worthington, who was the president then, met me at a missions fest program because I had a booth because of the leadership development ministry that I run. And when we began to talk, Paul looked at the syllabus that we had and the way we’d been growing leaders over the years, and we’ve done that for about 10 years, and Paul said, “Huh. You know, one of the things we’re supposed to be doing at ISM-C is growing leaders. But we really haven’t found, like, the syllabus, the way, to actually do it. So can we start talking?” So we started talking about collaborating. We started talking about – so I was actually billed to be their conference speaker the next year. And then as time went on, they began to search for a new president. And then --- says, will you? And I’m like, no, no, no. I’m busy, you know. I’m so busy. And after a few months God says, “Look. This is what I’m doing now. This is what I’m doing now.” And I’m telling you, God is so wise because up til now what we had done was, when we identified a potential leader, we go to that country, and train that person, and then…that person trains somebody who trains somebody and away we go. And all of a sudden when I said okay Lord – in fact, God convicted me. I told you about egos and logos. God said to me, “Why don’t you want to go and serve ISM-C? Is it because you are interested in taking care of your own baby? Get rid of your ego and your logo. Go where I’m sending you.” So I said, “Alright Lord, I’m going to take your advice so you take care of my group. And then after I did that as an act of surrender, God then opened my eyes and said, “Now have you seen what I’m doing? Because now at one goal, you are training leaders from literally every nation of the earth at once!” Go is so smart. Duh. But what is it at the end – I’d like each of you to answer that – what do you want to produce? If your ISM in New York or your ISM in Portland, if it were a factory, what would be its end product? Ask yourself. What is your end product? What do you want to produce? Because that has a lot to do with how you go about your things.
I want to give you a couple of examples, and a quick – I’ll give you sneak peeks into some of the lessons that we teach, and there’s no way I can teach a full lesson alright – so that you have an idea of some of the things you can do. Clement came to Montreal to study at one of the polytechnic -- institutions and Clement is Chinese, Chinese-French, the world is complicated. But he’s of Chinese origin but he lives in Paris, right, and so I was training these young people with some material from Equippers, John Maxwell’s leadership training organization, and he happened to be there. Now this was an e-mail he sent me because he had missed one of the sessions and permit me, this is totally unedited and he’s more French than English so forgive the grammatical – I want you to get the straight of it. He says, “Hello Dr. Yaw, I’m Clement from France and I asked you if I could come have the documents concerning leadership. I said it’s up to you I would like to use what I have learned thanks to you in order to teach it to members of my church. (Leadership, right.) Indeed, I think it is necessary to have a formation – ‘formación’ is ‘training’ in French – to have a formation about leadership, vision, planning, things we miss in most churches.” You know what he’s trying to say here, right? But this was one international student that got it, that realized, look, leadership training is important. He says, “I know that you’re going to …so that means after you return, for the first two lessons that I missed. By the way, thanks for the preaching today. This week, I had a class Tuesday about drinking water” – I had shared the statistics in the world, creation crieth, and this guy’s heart was burning, he said, “God wants me to do something about drinking water in the world. And I was really interested in this topic, I began to get some information and I had a thought. Work for a company of drinking water so that I can go abroad and put some stuff so that people in Asia and Africa can have drinking water.” You are a midwife, you are a midwife. Creation is crying and the answers lie in these international students. “And during your preaching when you spoke about the fact that 50 seconds a child dies of poverty” – that’s not quite accurate – “but I was so moved. Every 50 seconds a child dies of hunger. And I understood that it was certainly not a coincidence that these two moved me in the same week at two different places who seemed to have nothing to do with one another. I mean class and preaching. You are taught something in school about the dire need for water in the world, that a billion people don’t have drinking, good drinking water, and I’m told about it again, alright. And he says, in two different places. I mean class and preaching. It should have no link, but it does. Not because of fate, but because of God. I’m so happy that he used you to confirm the thought that started in my heart during that class from Tuesday, so let’s keep contact and I hope to see you soon.”
So I made time for Clement. And that’s one of the things that I want to encourage you. Don’t just, you see, let me be very honest with you. One of the things I find in North America is that you guys love formulae. Just don’t teach me. Give me step one, two, three, four. Listen to the Spirit of God. Everything’s not by formulae. Because you may have somebody who’s – anyway. Yeah, yeah, if I go on this way you may not invite me back, so…you know. But somehow I knew I should make time for this guy. That’s what I’m saying. You can’t do one-on-one with everybody, alright. I want to show you an e-mail he sent me a year later after I’d made time with him, gone through the lessons that he’d missed, Clement goes back to Paris and you all know the state of the church in Paris. You all know the state of the gospel in Europe. And he’s a leader. From international student to a leader.
He says, “Dr. Yaw” – this is 12 January 2012 – “I am almost finished with teaching on leadership” Equippers is the material that we were using, John Maxwell’s book, he says “I’ve already done 5 lessons so the strategic planning lesson remaining. It was the first time I” sorry for the English “that I teach and I really love it.” It was the first time he was teaching. “The pastor and the ancient” he means the elder, the French would say ancient “the pastor and the elder of my church told me that I had the gift of teaching, so after Equip I will do that.” A teacher has birthed in Paris because we did not stop at giving him spaghetti but we said let’s teach him some leadership. Don’t just do easy ministry. “Thanks again for the opportunity you gave me by sending me those documents freely and by teaching me. In Paris, Equip … is taught to Pentecostal people. So not many changes are taking place…I try to teach this in other movements, by the way how are you doing?” And this guy is on fire. I’d like you to think of the alternative. What if none of this had happened? He actually is an engineering student. He would have gone back to France, would have been more of engineering right? And so what? Are we going to do easy ministry or are we going to do strategic ministry?
I’ll give you another example before I give you some parts of some of the lessons. Manuel is a Mexican international student, was an international student, he came to do part of his program of masters in engineering at McGill. And again, some of you just told me, “I don’t even have enough time with these students! Some of them are there for four months!” That’s why I said, “Listen to the Spirit of God” because God may use one lesson to start a fire in that person, the person will go on and learn on their own or contact you later or whatever it is but sometimes you are just a fire starter. We had one lesson, Manuel and I, and he was so blessed, he was so touched, he started contacting me, he went back to Mexico, we stayed in contact a bit. Just about two months ago, barely two months ago, Manuel called me and said, “Dr. Perbi, we need to talk. I need some more leadership lessons. I’m leading my boss! I’m leading my boss!” And what he meant was, he had such influence in his workplace! And this is a secular workplace. And his boss looks to him for leadership. And it’s like, I need a few more tips, you know, on how to influence my workplace for Christ. In fact, his youth pastor in Mexico looks to him for leadership. Maybe it’s just the fact that, well, he went to Canada. Maybe that’s where it starts. But he needs to realize, he knows more than just engineering. I could give you examples from – and so I started doing some more lessons with him via Skype. And a lot of people that I teach is via Skype. There’s somebody in Australia who one of my mentees is now teaching, and they connect between Ghana and Australia. Doing leadership training via Skype. There’s one international student who’s from Ghana but who’s studying in China, he’s in the Chengdu province, and this guy finished his Masters, he’s now doing his PhD, he’s certainly going to be an influential lecturer at the university. And I said you’d better get some leadership. How do we do this?
Whatever you decide to do, I want to suggest a few things. However you decide to train leaders, there are a few important pillars that must be there. You choose whatever best practice, but make sure that these important pillars are there.
Number one, whatever you decide to do, make sure that there’s a process. We’re not going to do one big sermon and say, “All right all of you, get these certificates, you are leaders, hallelujah you’re leaders.” It doesn’t just happen. It’s a process. And for the disciples it took three and a half years and still. So do something. Have that in mind. Even if it means meeting once a month, but every month for twelve months, is better than just doing one five hour session and going into the world Think process.
Then also, think practice. Leave opportunities to practice. Don’t just lecture, alright? Give positions, give them roles to take. Like we heard from the testimony, alright, that’s the best way to learn. By practice and by projects. And it’s amazing, the testimony mentioned [Mari Campbell, heard here] both co-leading with that young man and also doing projects – asking these students to go knock on doors, etc. Practice.
Then make sure – maybe this is the most, no it’s not the most important – but this is very important. Because a lot of leadership development, what happens, is lopsided. It has to be holistic. You know, any true education must touch these three “h’s”: the head, the heart, and the hands. The head in terms of knowledge, information, all of that. The heart in terms of character, attitude, all of that. And the hands in terms of skills. And I’ll be honest with you, a lot of the education I sense we’ve been getting from our universities are not true education. A lot of it is headucation. Headucation. Alright? Just head. Because a lot of them leave school with not much of character to show. And some don’t leave with too many skills, depending on what they are studying. Alright? But that is where we come in. The training you get in terms of leadership must have these three h’s. I want to give you examples of each of them, don’t worry, because this is important. The training you give must shift paradigms. Because you see, this is where the discipleship comes in, there might be transformation by the renewing of their mind. For example, if that student tells you it’s only old people who lead, you’ve got to show them 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young but set an example” in other words, lead. Lead! Set an example for the believers in speech and life and love and purity.
You see the Bible transforms us by the renewing of our minds. No matter what country they are coming from, there are certain mindsets that they have. And it’s the scriptures that are going to rewire them. Mindsets are important, very important. One of the things I will never forget was I was in Uganda a couple of years ago, and heard a horrific story about a girl – this guy who was a player wanted to break off a relationship with this girl because he had found another girl who was a virgin and thought that was more attractive, right, you know guys like the chase, the challenge. This was a Christian girl that has sworn an oath that “I’m not going to mess up with my virginity until I’m married” and that was an attractive target. So he wants to leave this old girl that he’s been sleeping with and go after this Christian girl. And he tells me this story himself. So he tells this girl, “You know what, I’m really done with this relationship, you know, I’m interested in somebody else, so forget it, it’s over,” and the girl goes, “Oh, it’s okay, if you want to have a relationship with that girl it’s fine, you can still have me too.” I’m sure a lot of you are like “aww” yeah. I’m just showing this to you to show you how powerful paradigms are, mindsets are. “You can have me, too.” Why would I want to do that? Why would you want to sell yourself so cheap? And she says this: because my grandmother has told me that you cannot keep a good man to yourself alone. That if you find a good man, you have to share him, because good men are rare. I’m just sharing that to illustrate the power of the paradigm. So she was prepared to share this boy with this girl because the paradigm was you cannot keep a good man to yourself. There’s a lot of leadership paradigms, for example, if you get an African who you want to disciple in leadership, one of the issues you’ll probably ---- [issue with microphone, resumes]----
Your life is important! At 30 or 40 already approaching the evening of your life, seriously! I probably messed up the recording, eh? How many minutes do I have, please, I need to round this up. So you need to do – it has to be paradigm shifting, it has to be purpose driven in the sense that - I borrowed that from Rick Warren, and I’ll show you some of the material of his that we use – it has to be purpose driven in the sense that you’ve got to teach people about purpose. You see, they are not just – they are not going to lead in every area. There’s something God has called them to lead in. And they have to discover that. I’m sure you’ve heard of the 7 Mountains – you know, Loren Cunningham and Bill Bright and all of that, you know, there’s academia – some of them are going to be leaders in academia. Some of them are going to be leaders in church, some of them are going to be leaders in the arts, some of them are going to be leaders in business, some of them are going to be leaders in government, some of them are going to be leaders – but that is it! They’ve got to discover their God-given purpose and so their leadership training has to have these parameters. Where to you want to be an influencer? Which of the cries of creation are you feeling God is calling you to answer? It has to be purpose driven. Absolutely scripturally based – because heaven and earth shall pass away, but God’s word will not pass away.
There’s a lot of stuff that is floating around as leadership development that won’t fly. It has to be based on scripture and it has to be empowered by the Spirit of God. And I find that a lot of times in the evangelical circles, we play down on that. And I was speaking to a group of people in Budapest, and this was like a group of people who were from Wheaton, and Fuller, and this one was from Cornwell, and you know all of that. And that’s all good. But you see, nobody went to a better Bible school than the disciples. They were with the Word himself. They were with the Word made flesh. And yet Jesus, after spending 3 ½ years developing these leaders, said, “Don’t you do anything. Wait in Jerusalem until you have been empowered by the Spirit of God.” Let me tell you, some of those students are going into contexts where no matter how many degrees they have in divinity and theology, without the power of the Spirit of God they’ll be crushed by the system.
These are a couple more books that I use (and I’m not saying this is the best, not at all). This I developed myself with a number of people, it’s based on purpose. All the lessons are based on purpose, based on Rick Warren’s work. I have done much more extensive studies, all right, beyond just what’s in the book, in Rick’s book. And this is book one from 18 of Maxwell’s Equip, from Maxwell’s ministry. And I’m just going to show you some of the things we do. So for example, this is a six month process where once a month there’s a two, little over two hour session, where we do two tracks – a personal leadership track, and an interpersonal leadership track. Personal leadership, what is that? Well really it’s discipleship, isn’t it. Because the hardest person to lead is yourself. Right? In fact, it’s been found that 90% of leadership failures are personal failures. Character failures. 90%. So, for example, we do something about an introduction to God-given purpose. What’s purpose about? God put you here for a reason, what is it, and the personal leadership lesson we do along with that is God’s call to lead. So once you discover your own purpose, you also find out ‘what is God asking me to do in the wider world?’ To answer creation’s cry. Then we go into the five minute purposes of life: worship, fellowship, discipleship, service, and missions. So we do that lesson on worship, then we do something on priorities and decision making. What is going to be at – because worship is going to be at the center of your life – what is going to be at the center of your life to determine the kind of decisions you make, and what are your priorities? So when we come and look at fellowship, our purpose of fellowship, then we look at cultivating people skills. Did you know there are skills that must be learned? Some of you are great leaders, you’re going to get people into your group and then you scatter them by yourself. And you bring them in and you scatter them with your poor people skills. It can be learned. So leadership skills, confident people skills. Now it’s good if you can do a project, whatever it is, and then when they look at discipleship, the purpose – become more like Christ in character. They look at a study called The Heart of a Leader. I love that lesson. Where they are taught to have nothing to prove, have nothing to lose, have nothing to hide. Oh, now it gets emotional. Then we talk about purpose to serve, and then we look at “I have a dream.” What’s their dream. Don’t let anyone graduate from your hands without asking them “What’s your dream?” What’s the dream God has given you for your world? Why are we using these bright people to go into the world and make the world not much better than we came from? And then when we talk about missions, we look at strategic planning.
Okay, I wanted to give you a taste of these lessons, but I have three minutes left, or maybe even two. So when it comes to – let me just summarize. So examples of “head stuff”, alright, are things like strategic thinking, vision, discipleship making, prioritization, these are all head stuff. I told you the three things, right? Make sure there’s head stuff in your training, make sure there’s heart stuff, and make sure there’s hand stuff. So the head stuff this is an example, this is actually a lesson on vision. I picked this from the material because for example, people ask “How do I get a vision? How do I get a vision? I want a vision from God for my life, for my country, for my department, for my – how do I get a vision?”
And the most important thing, and this is part of the lesson shows that, the birth of a vision is like the birth of a child. Oh I wish I could go into this! But, sorry. The first step you need to teach these students, the first step in getting vision, is intimacy. Intimacy. And perhaps God is speaking to some of you right now. This may not even be for your students, right now it’s for you. Let me tell you something. Unless a man and his wife sleep together, unless they have that intimacy, they won’t get pregnant. I’m not talking about en vitro, they won’t get pregnant. Unless there’s intimacy there’ll be no pregnancy. And I want to tell you, unless you have intimacy with God you wouldn’t get pregnant either! You’ve got to tell those students they can’t be running around all helter skelter here and there and expect a vision from God, you need intimacy to get pregnant. I know there are pastors right now who are visionless, I’ve been there before. Where you’re so busy you get burnt out – some of you are already burnt out – they’re going to refresh you in this conference, they’re going to restore your intimacy with him because guess what? You will not have vision until you get intimate. I remember when I was practicing – oh, can I tell this story? Oh. Okay. You see, when you study medicine in the developing world, some of these things are cultural, but when, especially when you do obstetrics and gynecology, you see a woman who gives you very bizarre symptoms. Like, I have burning here, I have this ache here, I have this – and they seem to be unrelated. Like what is this, you have every symptom in the world she has it! A lot of times you have to cut to the chase and ask, “Madam, do you want a child?” Because the cultural is such that people cannot say I want a baby, you know, so they go round and round and round. So we’re taught that in medical school. So when I was practicing at the military hospital, this woman comes to me and goes on and on and on, I have this, I have that, I have that – man, totally confuses a young doctor. What’s this? So I just remembered that and I cut to the chase and I said, “Madam, do you want a baby?” And then she just goes [nods]. I said should’ve just told me! But so of course as a doctor you have to ask further, probing questions, some embarrassing questions right? But one of the things you have to ask is, how often do you have sex with your husband? Because if you’re not doing the do you’re not going to get the – you know what I’m saying. So I asked this question, and the woman says, “Ah, my husband has traveled. He’s gone on peacekeeping.” And I felt like getting up and giving her a knock, I mean, how can you expect to get pregnant if you, you know! But people laugh, but that is how ridiculous we are when we are trying to get a vision from God and we are not intimate. Who’s going to teach this to your students?
And it goes on. So there’s intimacy, there’s conception, there’s gestation, you have to teach them that some of the visions God’s going to give them won’t take nine months to birth. Some of the visions God’s going to give them are going to take five years to birth! There’s gestation between conception and the birth of a vision! Who’s going to teach them that so that they do not suicide bomb themselves? It takes 21 days to hatch a chicken. You know how long it takes to give birth to an elephant? Two years. So this is some head stuff, vision.
There’s some heart stuff, like courage, integrity, honesty, simplicity, things like that. This is a lesson on security and servanthood from the story of Jesus when he washed the disciples feet. And so you read that story, and you teach them that it takes a secure leader, who must be secure enough to empower others. Many of them come from cultures where you have to divide and conquer. That’s not Christian leadership. So you need to teach them that secure leaders focus on towels, insecure leaders focus on titles. Are you going to be into titles or are you going to be into towels? Secure leaders draw strength from identity, insecure leaders draw strength from image. Secure leaders produce service to others, insecure leaders produce status with others. And some of them are going to countries where they’re going back and want to be served. That may be cultural, but that is not the Jesus culture! What kind of leaders are we going to have? The secure ones who add volume to others or the insecure ones who gain volume from others? Oh boy when I go to Africa and I speak to the leaders, I say you guys are wicked, it’s clear you want to serve these people so why are you killing them if you want to serve them? It’s not about the people. Who’s going to teach them the stuff? Some skills, strategy planning skills, communication skills, people skills, so important! You see, if you’re a leader and you don’t have good communication skills, it doesn’t matter what’s in your head. Forget it. It won’t happen. Who’s going to teach them this stuff? And people skills are essential. For example, they learn that people are insecure, they must give them confidence. People like to feel special, honor them. People that earn– forget it, you cannot write all of this down. But these are very simple things, but these are deeply lifechanging. Oh boy. Who’s going to teach them this stuff so they have awesome people skills? Who’s going to teach them that, you see, character may be hidden but it is the bedrock of their leadership. 90% of leadership failures are character failures, and many times I tell my young leaders, “Charisma is good. But charisma without character is a disaster waiting to happen.” And invariably it does whether you are Bill Clinton or you are Tiger Woods.
So what are we going to do about this? I probably have left you more questions than answers. Have I? But, you know, I can send you some of this material so that you can go through and choose parts but I don’t care, I’ll just give it to you. Do with it whatever God asks you to do with it. But whatever you do, please, please, let’s build Godly effective leaders. One of the greatest things that happened to my country Ghana was that we got a Christian president. That was awesome! A born-again Christian, and I knew him personally because we were attending the same church. My mom was a lecturer at the University of Ghana and he was a law professor at that time. So we’re going to the same church, I know him, I know his wife, I know his dogs, I mean. I knew him, I knew I could vouch for him. This was a born-again Christian, this was- and he became President and the whole country was excited, you know, wow, we have a Christian President, we have a Christian President. He did some really good stuff. He was known as a man of peace, you know, he would not insult back, a really great guy. Up til now nobody can bring one single corrupt charge against him. (Which, by the way, is one of the reasons you need to deal with heart issues, because the world bank says the one issue that has broken development in the world is corruption. And the universities have no solution. You guys do. You guys do, you Jesus people, you do.) So he was awesome in all those ways, peace, corruption, whatever. But no leadership skills did he have. And it was sad. In fact, it got to a point where people started to tease him and to tease Christianity. Because there was a national issue, and he would say, “My brothers and sisters, we will pray.” And people are like, “Yeah, but you are the commander in chief of the armed forces.” Do you understand what I’m trying to say? Are we going to do easy ministry, feed people lasagna, and say go home, or are we going to do the hard work of putting in some discipleship and leadership training? Because it’s not enough to have the good heart stuff. Psalm 78 verse 72 it says, “David shepherded Israel with integrity of heart” that’s great, character “but also with skillfulness of hands.” I’m sick and tired of seeing good Christians – there’s nothing sadder than having a good man who’s a bad leader. May that not be our lot.
Let me pray quickly before this guy runs me out of town.
Father, we thank you for this session. Ah, we have a lot of questions, there’s a lot of, but I think of the stirring that is happening right now. Because you move when there’s a stirring. A lot of you want to be better at this. This is what we say we do for our career, for our living, for our purpose, may we do it well! So we don’t want to just do things because they are easy, we want to do things because they are strategic as well. So help us. In our own context, from the east coast to the west coast, show us the best ways to practically, intentionally, grow Godly effective leaders, servant leaders, who like Jesus, who have the character but also have the skill and have O God the power the power to change this world. May this be said of the people who pass through our hands like it was said of the disciples and apostles of old, the people that turned the world upside down, have come here also. May we not just be known for oh the place you go for love or the place you go for lasagna, may we also be known as a place you go for leadership development. In Jesus’ name, amen.