Kyle Kaigler discusses 5 spiritual leadership principles set forth in Proverbs. Spiritual leadership is key if Christians want to take more ground for God's kingdom. Kyle stresses that it is more about the state of your heart than any activity you will ever perform for God.
Real Men and Their Sons
Real Men and Their Wives
Real Men and Their Work
About two or three days ago, Jim Wimberley said, "Hey Kyle, will you speak to the guys who forgot their sons?" I said, "Yeah. I would be absolutely happy to do that." Since I have three daughters, and I overloaded last week at the men's breakfast, they asked me to come and speak to you. Jim said, "Kyle, you can come and talk about whatever you want." I said, "Are you kidding?" He said, "No, whatever you want."
I said, "Well, if I have 15 minutes to talk to a bunch of men who are coming to a men's Bible study or a men's breakfast study, there's only one thing I want to talk about, and that's spiritual leadership: what that looks like and how we, as a church, men in our church, can begin to take more ground for God's kingdom." I tell you, it is a passion of mine just how we do this and what that looks like and how we continue to take more ground for the kingdom. So let me pray for us, and we're going to dive in for about 10 or 15 minutes.
Lord, thanks for these men who are here. I just pray that this 15 minutes that we have would be life-changing. Father, that we would see some things for the first time that we haven't seen, or maybe we just get reminded of what matters and what really counts. I just pray, Lord, as we spend some time together that you would move our hearts, that you would change our hearts. Would you teach us how to love you better, how to care for our family better, and how to take ground for your kingdom? We pray these things in Jesus name, amen.
One of the things I have been moved by since I've been around Watermark is we did a leadership retreat four or five years ago (maybe even a little bit less than that). One of the comments that Todd made that I think is absolutely incredible is that God is willing to let entire nations rise and fall based on leadership. For those of you who are doing the Journey, we have just gone through the Major and Minor Prophets, and continuously, that's what we saw. God allowed the nation of Israel to fall because of bad leadership.
In the same way, if you look around, you find out organizations and ministries and things that are succeeding and being effective for God's kingdom is because of great leadership. So what I want to do today is take you through five principles. Here's what I did. Two days ago, I sat down, and I went through the book of Proverbs, and I just searched for every single passage in the book of Proverbs that had king in it. It came up with about 30 passages, and I went through and came up with five principles from the book of Proverbs that help us in our spiritual leadership. We're going to dive in real quickly here.
1 . Spiritual leadership is mysterious by God's design and subject to his sovereign plan. Let me tell you one of the things I think we run into as leaders in the church looking for other leaders. People think that leadership or spiritual leadership is, what I would say, formulaic. If you have all the right information and if you do all the right things, you are going to be an effective leader.
The reality is that spiritual leadership is a little bit mysterious. It is a little bit (well, a lot) subject to God's sovereignty. One of the things that happened several years ago before we started Watermark is I was at Little Rock at a church up there called Fellowship Little Rock (for those of y'all who are familiar) that has had a great impact on God's kingdom.
We were up there, and they have three guys in leadership who lead that church. We got the chance to talk to those guys about, "How did you do this? What happened?" I tend to put people on this leadership pedestal and think, "They are so gifted," and all that kind of stuff. Those guys were up there, and they said, "Hey, we were just being faithful. We were being available, and all of a sudden, God's wave came, and we just rode it. That's all we did."
I look back now and think about that deal, that's exactly what happened with us. If you would have told me five years ago, seven years ago, ten years ago, that would be on staff at a church, I would have told you you are crazy. My background is Young Life, and I love that easy-going culture and wearing shorts and t-shirts and not have to worry about paving parking lots and that kind of stuff. I just thought, "There's no way in a million years I'm ever going to be a part of a church that has that kind of a culture."
All of a sudden, this deal happened with these 7 families, and then these 150 families, and then the first time we opened up, November 7, it was 250 people. As of 2 weeks ago, we had 600-some kids in children's ministry and 2,500 adults. I look back and think, "All we did was ride the wave." That's all that's happening here.
You guys know that sometimes I get the chance to teach on Sunday. This last summer, when I was teaching a couple times, I was up on stage, and while I'm teaching and communicating, I had this out of body experience. I'm up there, and I'm teaching, and I'm running through my notes and Scripture and stuff like that. Literally, I see myself on stage, and it's like, "What are you doing? You are on stage teaching, in front of however many people." Never in a million years did I think I would be at that place.
What that brings me back to is our job, if we want to be spiritual leaders, is to be faithful and available exactly where we are and trust God that he's going to put us in the place where we're going to have the biggest impact. That's the first thing. Spiritual leadership is mysterious by God's design and subject to his sovereign plan.
2 . Spiritual leadership is more about the state of your heart than any activity you will ever perform for him. We may not get any further than this one right here before the day's out. This is probably a repeat for folks, but the biggest leadership challenge I have and you guys are going to have as you seek to be spiritual leaders is taking care of yourself.
I was reading an article last night getting ready for this. There's a guy, and I can't remember his name. I have it in the article. It's a guy who talks about spiritual leadership. He said that 50 percent of your time ought to be spent on you. I don't know how many of us can afford, at least in the way that we think right now, to take that kind of time to spend on ourselves, but if you think about taking care of your body, taking care of your mind, and then especially taking care of your soul, his thought was it takes 50 percent of your time just to take care of yourself.
The best thing you can give to people who you lead is a fully engaged, fully impassioned leader. I haven't been able to discipline myself to do this yet, but my hunch is if I were to take 50 percent of my time to work on my stuff, my junk, the impact that I have for God's kingdom would be much more than it is right now.
That's hard for me because every place else I get from the world, "Be efficient. Be effective. Make progress. Have meetings." All that kind of stuff. In God's kingdom, God's economy, I really think if we're taking care of our heart, it's that mysterious part of who God is that our impact is going to be even greater. We may not know that now.
Jim, I hope you don't mind me sharing this. I'm going to share it anyway. One of the things that I love about hanging out with Jim (as you all know, and we talk about a lot) is Jim is a praying man. He doesn't teach up front, doing all that kind of stuff. One of the things you guys know… Harriet Miers is the next nominee for the Supreme Court.
Jim, who's never up front, never does all that kind of stuff, prayed for her, knew her before she was a Christian, when she came to Christ, and talks to her on a monthly basis about who she is, how he can pray for her, what's going on, and all that kind of stuff. I've been moved, even these last two weeks, that Jim, who's not a guy who's up front all that kind of time, is having an impact because of his prayer life and because of his relationships on a Supreme Court nominee and hopefully a confirmed Supreme Court Justice.
That's amazing to me that God has had Jim in a place where he could influence what I believe is one of the most influential positions in our country. I think God is going to judge the judges of our country harder than he's going to judge anybody else. I think they have the most influence on what happens to our culture and morality.
Jim had no idea 25 to 30 years ago when he was praying for Harrier Miers that she was going to end up being a Supreme Court nominee. Neither did many people two months ago because it's so out of left field. But I love the fact that Jim has had an influence on her life because he is was doing what he was doing (being faithful, available, and taking care of his own heart, prayer life, all that kind of stuff). It's an amazing thing to me. It was really fun to go through Proverbs and Kings and see how these things laid out.
3 . Spiritual leadership is built more on authenticity than on natural wiring or giftedness. We tend to look at people (I know I do) who are really, really gifted and say, "I can't do what they can do." The reality is, people follow authenticity. It's one of the things I think has marked Watermark, and it's the reason people come every Sunday and say, "That was incredible."
We have a senior pastor who is up there saying, "I wanted to kill my wife two weeks ago." You just don't hear that. Certainly not at Walnut Hill Methodist where I grew up. You don't see a pastor up front who's living life with authenticity and vulnerability. It's not just for a guy who's gifted like Todd is. It's for all of us.
Whether we're up front on a stage on a Sunday morning or not, whatever sphere of influence God has put us in, authenticity is what causes people to follow. Are you doing and being who you say you are? Authenticity is critically important. Look at the Proverbs 20:28 right there. "Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure."
4 . Spiritual leadership understands the need for the pack. It's what you hear around here all the time, but it's about community. You don't do things alone. I'll tell you guys a great story that happened to me this last spring. Anybody who knows me well knows I am a sports freak. I have twin girls who play soccer and are both pretty good soccer players. They're pretty athletic and things like that.
They're third-grade girls, and I have to really watch how excited and competitive I get when I coach. For the first time, we had playoffs this last year. I was into it big time. We were having a great time. But it was really funny. After the first playoff game… Our girls won in penalty kicks. One of my daughters made a great save at the end to win the game and all the kind of stuff.
In the midst of being excited, I looked up, and for the first time in years, I missed my dad. For those of y'all who don't know my story, my dad took off when I was 15, and I never saw him again. Then he died at the age of 18 without us ever having reconciled that relationship. My mom was there, which was great, but I just looked up and had this overwhelming sense of, "Gosh, I wish my dad could have been here." He was in all my stuff until I was 15.
I was really bummed and down. I missed out. So the next game was the second playoff game, and the same thing happened. The game ended in a tie, and my daughter was in the goal and kicking and all that kind of stuff. We ended up winning again, and I looked up, and four of the guys who are in my life on a regular basis were around that field cheering for my daughters, and I just lost it.
I just said, "God I am so thankful that one of the biggest gaps that I have in my life, which is having a dad who was around during those key years [15 to 21 or 22] has now been replaced by three, four, or five other men in my life who are coming and playing significant roles." As we think about spiritual leadership, as we think about our life as leaders, we have to have people in lives who are filling those gaps.
We're in a situation right now in our Community Group where there are some significant things going on. We met this last Sunday night. We're going to meet next Sunday night and talk and help these folks think through these things, so as you think about spiritual leadership, just remember the importance of the pack; the whole idea of having people in your life.
5 . Spiritual leadership is for those who possess tenacity in pursuing God in a courageous march into relationships which often become messy. The proverb here is great. It's Proverbs 25:2-3. "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings." Basically, what that's saying is I think God wants us to come after him hard.
I think when we're new Christians, when we're early in our faith, God becomes fairly searchable. His presence is felt a little more intentionally probably than it is later. But as we grow and our faith gets deeper and deeper, and we mature more and more, I think God (not being mean) tends to pull away. He doesn't leave us, ever. Please don't hear me say that. But he withdraws so we'll come after him. It's why it says that the glory of kings is to search out a matter. Spiritual leadership is being tenacious about pursuing God and who he is in his mind, his heart, and his will.
I love the whole picture of a junkyard dog that grabs hold of your pant leg, and you can't kick him off for anything. It's like, "God, I don't care what you take me through…what desert, what valley, whatever. I'm going to hang on, and by golly, on the other side, I'm still going to be hanging on. We're going to have learned together the things that you want me to learn." It's the glory of kings, it's the glory of leaders, to seek out a matter and to search the heart of God.
The last part of that phrase, "…in a courageous march into relationships which become messy." One of the things I love about our church is CR (Celebrate Recovery) and the way it keeps us in an authentic place with people. What you find is you move into relationships, and it becomes really, really messy.
Yesterday afternoon, I had a gal in my office crying up a storm. Before I started at Watermark, crying girls made me nervous. Now, it happens about once a week, just because of hard conversations and hopefully healthy and Spirit-led conversations. You're having honest conversations with people about what it means to look like Christ and what it means to grow and all that kind of stuff.
I just think, as we think about our spiritual leadership, one of the things I think that Todd does incredibly well is that as he lives his life in the Highland Park area, he is tenacious about initiating relationships. All four soccer teams that he coaches and all that kind of stuff. He has these webs of relationships that he's continuously initiating.
"First time? Hey, nice to meet you." Then he follows up with, "Can I take your kid home? Can I do something? Hey, come to Watermark. Let me tell you my story of grace and what happened." The influence that he has in that community… When the kids were killed a couple of years ago at one of the Highland Park elementary schools, Todd came in there as a parent, and about two or three days later, Todd was talking to the whole community of parents about what happened and how to handle this and all that kind of stuff because of his initiation of relationships.
I know some of us are wired to be introverts, and that's hard for us, but I continually look at the life of Christ, and Christ was always initiating with people, always saying, "Let me come to your house to have dinner," always saying, "Come on. Follow me." So even if we're introverted, there still needs to be an initiation of relationship. I think that's just part of spiritual leadership.
Those are really the five things that stuck out to me as I went through Proverbs the last couple of days. But I will go back to number two, and that is this: Who you are with Christ is more important than anything you will ever do for the kingdom. So taking care of your own heart, your intimacy with Christ, listening to God, is more important than anything you will ever do for him.
My prayer, as I was getting ready for today, was that you guys after our times together this morning would spend some time with the Lord and say, "Okay, God. Am I in the place that you want me to be? Am I having the influence you want me to have?" If you are, terrific, great, and be faithful. But if you're not, think through, "God, what did you call me to do? What areas of my life have you called me to give up, to get away from, to leave behind, so I'll have some capacity to do exactly what you have called me to do?"
Would you do that? Would you spend some time saying, "God…" If you're in a great place, great. But if you're not, spend some time and ask what he has for you, and be tenacious about pursuing that in community with Christ.
My dream is that at some point Watermark will have a team of people who will literally take on DISD. We all know what a potential disaster that place is or can become. That we could go to Laura Miller and say, "I have 15 of Dallas' best leaders. We want it. Let us have it. Let us figure out how to turn that thing around."
We have this whole Vickery Meadow area over here. It's the highest crime rate in Dallas. I want to take 10 or 15 of Dallas' greatest leaders and go to that police department over here and say, "Let us have it." Even in children's ministries… We've opened up this whole area in Spring Valley and Coit. When we get to this site right here, I'm thinking through children stuff, about having busses just load up those apartment communities and bring them over to children's ministry and take them back.
If I can get 10 of Dallas' best leaders and say, "Let's figure out how to make that happen," I think it's here. I think it's in our body. It's a matter of us just continuing to grow with Christ, asking God what he wants us to do, and then man, let's take it by storm. Let me pray for us, and we'll be done.
Father, thank you for men who earnestly desire, as you say in the Scriptures, spiritual leadership. Father, I pray that you would convict us of those areas in our life where we have not yielded to you, and Father, you would give us a picture, a vision, of what it was that you have for us, and we would step on the gas pedal to get there.
All along the way, Father, we're checking the state of our heart. Are we leading with authenticity? So, Lord, I pray that you would do that in my life today, help me to re-up with you. Father, I pray that would happen in the lives of these guys who are here this morning who got up early to come listen. Father, we ask because of our time this morning, that you would redeem it for your kingdom in ways that we could never imagine. That we would ride the wave, Father, that you have us on. We pray these things in Jesus name, amen.
(Fall 2005) There is a different Men's Club in town - a place where men of strength and integrity are willing to face the truth even if it involves pain from present or past troubled relationships or circumstances. At this club there are men who are willing to live their lives with honor. Men who are responding to a noble call. A call to live for a something greater than their own pleasure, prominence or gain.