Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Winning the War of Spiritual Leadership

Written by Randy

A Tactical Strategy
Have you ever noticed that we focus on tactics and not strategy?
No? Well, let me explain…

I spend a lot of time wargaming lately. It could be the fact that I’m a dyed-in-the-wool gamer-geek who has more board games in his closet than he will play this year. It could also have something to do with the fact that I have the pleasure of working with a retired Army Colonel, who is patiently mentoring me into manhood. Either way, I find myself inundated in thoughts of military leadership.

One of the lessons that keeps coming to mind is the difference between tactics and strategy.

Strategy is what those “guys on top” do. It’s the big planning. The major movements. “We need to capture that hill!” “We need to buy a car with better gas mileage.” Those are strategies.

Tactics are those specific things you do to accomplish the strategy. “Circle behind the enemy.” “Get to that rock!” “Read Consumer Reports yearly automotive review!”

However, it takes both strategy AND tactics to win a battle.

You can want that hill all day long, but if you don’t move to get it, it remains in enemy territory. Or, you can be the soldieriest soldier who ever soldiered a charge, but if you run right into the enemies guns, you won’t accomplish what you desire.

As Christians, we get mired in tactics.

We like “to do” items. We like grocery lists. We like the feeling of accomplishment and direction. We are an action-hero society, and our hero needs action!

We pile chore upon chore, and commitment upon commitment. We busy ourselves to our utmost limit, because if we’re busy, we’re doing good, right? We don’t want to be lazy. We don’t want to be less of a husband/wife/parent/son/daughter than that guy over there, right?

So, we busy ourselves with tactics. We add chores to our life. We schedule our calendars to the hour, filling in every ugly open spot. We add rules to our Sabbath.

We forget an important lesson that Jesus taught.

See, there was this really tactical guy…he did it all right. He trained. He planned. He performed. He was on time. He was head of his class. He was first in his platoon. And he asked Jesus “Hey, sergeant, I’ve mastered all the drills, moves, and maneuvers! Which one of those tactics is going to win the most battles?”

And Jesus answered:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-38).

It wasn’t the reply the young man was looking for.

Jesus gave him a strategic answer, not a tactical one. Jesus could have said, “Wash our feet.” Or “Feed my sheep,” or “Shelter the homeless”, “listen to your wife when she talks,” or “discipline your children when they mess up.” All of those are the tactics of love. But instead, Jesus cut to the chase. He talked strategy.

That’s a good plan. When we understand the strategy—I mean REALLY understand it--we can make better choices about our tactics. When we know the goal, then we can improvise as necessary in the steps to reach that goal. When we know God wants us to “love your neighbor as yourself” then we can make a decision to spend as much quality time with our spouse as we do Oprah or Madden.

Tactics appeal to us because they are short, discreet, and easy to understand (if not perform).

But we get lost in tactics when we forget the strategy.

We don’t see the forest because of the bees. (Bees are sting-ey…they DEMAND your attention!)

The Flexical Strategery of Spirtual Leadery

If you Google the phrase “Spiritual Leadership Husband”, it only takes you a couple of hits to see some link where a wife is asking about ways to prod her husband into becoming the spiritual leader of her household. Now, I’m not saying this is wrong! All husbands should get a good prodding now and then by a well-intentioned partner. And husbands have a Biblical mandate to “headship” (Ephesians 5:23, but please, oh please read ALL of that context!)

But look closely how those desperate housewives define “spiritual leadership”. “He should schedule our family devotions every day!” or “He should do more things at church” or “I really wish he would plan the systematic theological training of our family across a fifteen year period.”.

Again, don’t misread me. All of those endeavors are good and right and excellent things. They are fine tactics in their time and place. I’m also “marriage enriched” enough to recognize that when a wife asks for specific things like that, there’s often something deeper that’s missing.

You’re missing strategy.

Headship, spiritually, cannot overlook the importance of strategy. “Love the Lod your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…” As a spiritual leader in your home, do your children think of you and say “ahh…my mom loves Jesus” or “wow…my dad is Godly in all that he does”? Or, do your children say: “oh no…here comes drill instructor again!”

Modeling how to memorize a Bible verse is important. So is holding your children accountable to daily time in God’s word.

But being a strategic spiritual leader means you are always focused on the primary goal of “Love God.” So, every nuance, every interaction—all the things that make up your life—those around you know where your heart is.

It’s how you speak to your spouse when money is tight.

It’s how you make decisions about what to do with a Sunday afternoon.

It’s thirty minutes spent on a science fair project, and an hour at practice with the team, and being the first to sign up for the service project, and what you say about your in-laws after you hang up the phone.

My friend, the Colonel, defines leadership as the “art of influence”, and you know what? He’s spot on.

Spiritual leadership of a family is a constant influence. It’s much harder than a task list, by the way. It’s living in constant love, fear, and obedience of the one true Almighty God who could unmake and forget all about you in a sneeze, if ever were he to desire it. (Note: He’s not going to desire that. )

So, as you plan for your next battle in this spiritual war we wage daily against a world that wants to wear us out and keep us ineffective, keep this in mind:

Tactics without Strategy will often leave you dead halfway up the hill you’re charging.

Strategy without Tactics will result in well-meaning-ness that never will quite inspire your family to grow.

Be both. Be godly.

And lead it like you mean it.

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