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Becoming Less of a Leader

Posted by David and Rebecca Ortiz
David and Rebecca Ortiz
David and Rebecca Ortiz have moved from San Antonio, Texas to Paraguay to join the Lord in what He is already ...
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on Tuesday, 27 September 2016 in New and Updates

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.-John 3:30 (NLT)

As a former officer in the U.S. Air Force, a faculty member at a large university, and then a medical director in a local physician group in San Antonio, I have filled my head and put into practice multiple leadership maxims.  Some leadership principles were lofty, such as “managers do things right, leaders do the right thing”, “lead from the front”, “don’t ask anyone to do anything you don’t first do yourself” and some not-so-lofty ones, such as, “if you want something done right, do it yourself”.  So, naturally, I approached leading others to Christ and making disciple-makers with these same tried and true leadership techniques, but the results were usually well short of my expectations. Though I would never admit it out loud, I was disappointed and frustrated in myself and in those that I was discipling and, when it came right down to it, disappointed in God.  In my disappointment, I found myself trying “harder”, using more human wisdom, trying to do more (more in-depth and frequent Bible studies, presenting more “methods”, “techniques”, “programs”, most of them from Christian books and authors), but finding that seemingly nothing “worked” in producing spiritual fruit in those around me or in myself.
 
Then last year, during a CrossBridge Community Church mission trip to Paraguay, our team led a discipleship-training seminar at our local church here in Paraguay.  One of our team members, Bill Branstetter, challenged all of us to ask ourselves the question, “Am I leading in a way that is spreading the gospel unto the ends of the earth?”  When I asked myself that question, the answer was, “No, I'm not. But how do I do that?”  As I listened for God's answer, He began to show me that the problem wasn’t that I was using the wrong methods or techniques, but that I was trying to do too much in my own power, instead of letting Him do the work.  He made it clear that He wasn’t asking me to lead others with human wisdom, He was asking me to lead others to His feet (a very important distinction). 
 
In the story about Jesus healing a paralyzed man (Mark 2:1-17), the paralyzed man’s friends showed great faith by making a way despite the crowd standing between their friend and Jesus. They went so far as to dig a hole in the roof in order to bring their friend to the feet of Jesus. Then they disappear from the story, which becomes all about Jesus going to the root of the man’s problem and healing his heart (forgiving his sins) and then healing his physical condition.  The friends’ role was just to get the man to Jesus, who then did the rest.  And that's what I had been missing. What needed to change was that I needed to do “less” and make room for Jesus to move more and transform lives.  So, practically speaking, what did that look like for me?  In my discipling efforts and the weekly Bible study I have with residents at the hospital, I began to do less and let others be more involved. I mentioned including worship in our weekly meetings, but instead of offering to lead and play guitar (which I could do), I simply mentioned the idea and then said nothing.  Immediately, two residents jumped in and said, “Yes, we’ve felt the same thing! We have a guitar and would like to pick songs to sing”.  Since then, I haven't led worship once; the group doesn’t even know that I play guitar. The resident-led worship we have each week has given the Holy Spirit more room to move in our meetings, more than any amount of "quality leadership" on my part could have done.  I also stopped leading the study every week and asked others to lead (including those who are just now starting their walk with Jesus) and they have invariably stepped up.  Here are some of the other changes I’m happy to report since I began leading less:
 
-Two residents decided to begin prayer meetings once a week before work and have begun inviting their co-workers to join them. 
-Several residents have joined with nurses who also follow Jesus and go around the wards singing worship songs to patients, which is extremely meaningful to patients and their families in this culture where music plays a large role.
-One week when it was my turn to lead the study, I had a sudden conflict and elected to cancel the study, as I was modeling a new way to facilitate and wanted to make sure the group had a good example to follow (without realizing it, I was making it about ME again).  The next day, two residents from the study walked up to me and very respectfully said, “Doc, don’t cancel the weekly study again. We really feel that the Lord doesn’t want us to stop meeting.  We lose momentum when we do that.  We’re perfectly capable of running it when you’re gone, just let us take care of it next time you can’t come”.  I can’t remember ever being so happy to be chastised!
 
We praise and thank God that He is teaching us to lead less and to let Him be more.  We also encourage you to ask God, “In my workplace/family/neighborhood, where do I need to become less so that you can show yourself more?”
 
Thank you for continuing to partner with us in prayer and encouragement as we see the Kingdom of God spreading in Paraguay.
 
In Christ,
 
David & Rebecca

 

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