Last week I spoke to 250 female pastors and pastor's wives at the New Zealand Assembly of God national conference. My previous blog is my confessional from that meeting.
Here's a blog version of my message to those female leaders:
Remember shooting rubber bands at your friends in elementary school? If you stretch the rubber band too much, it breaks and stings your finger. If you don't stretch it enough it will not fly all the way to the target. If you stretch it and aim it properly, you can hit the second grade bully three rows over and the clueless substitute teacher will never know who the sniper was. The trick is to keep the right amount of tension on the rubber band.
Managing tension in a healthy way - that's what leadership longevity is all about.
Here are 5 tension points that leaders - male and female, young and old - must learn to manage. Too much tension and we snap. Too little tension and we accomplish nothing.
1. MINISTRY & FAMILY. This tension transcends nations, cultures, ages, and careers. No matter if you are a businessman or a pastor, you will have to deal with this one. We can't afford to sacrifice our families on the altars of temporal success. Consider Hebrews 11:7. "By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his FAMILY." Noah's calling enabled him to save his family, and in saving his family, he saved the world. We do not have to choose between family and ministry. God has called us to do both. Is family or ministry first in your life?
2. LOCAL & INTERNATIONAL. According to Acts 1:8 we were given the power of the Holy Spirit so we can reach "Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth" not just so we can have a spine-tingling religious experience. As we build strong local churches, we must not forget the nations. This local/international tension creates difficult personnel, time, and money decisions. I believe God wants every church to be a house of prayer for all nations. Is your church local or global?
3. ESTABLISHED & EMERGING LEADERS. My generation knows how to teach and lead the next generation. But if we are serious about reaching the ends of the earth, we must learn how to listen to and lead with the next generation. Leading the next generation and leading with the next generation are not the same. Leading with and listening to the next generation will cause tension. Accept it and manage it. What are you doing to intentionally connect with other generations?
4. UNITY & DIVERSITY. Heaven is described as "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language..." (Revelation 7:9) Diversity in heaven is a beautiful thing, but on earth diversity causes tension. Diversity will pull us apart unless we make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit. Jesus had diversity in his genealogy. Do you have diversity in your church?
5. CAMPUS & CHURCH. We are called to plant churches and we are called to reach campuses. Building the church by reaching employed adults helps the financial bottom line. Growing the church by reaching the campus costs money - lots of money. And students don't generally give a lot in the offerings. No matter the cost, we must do both - it's a calling, not a preference. What are you doing to reach the campus?
I pray God will give us wisdom to lead through these and other tensions you will certainly face in the coming years.