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The First Small Group Leader

Mark 1:35-39 describes one of the first nights Jesus spent with the new leadership team that He handpicked. These twelve men went on to become known as the 12 disciples of the Bible. The secret to Jesus’ success as a small group leader was an early morning prayer and walk in the wilderness. According to John Mark, this hour of power revealed to Jesus where to go and what to do. Jesus invested three years of his life pouring his heart and soul into these men to prepare them for his departure; setting an example to follow.

Another also said, I will follow You, Lord, and become Your disciple and side with Your party; but let me first say good-bye to those at my home. 62 Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things behind] is fit for the kingdom of God, Luke 9:61-62.

The next step for any small group leader is to identify future leaders in your group. At some point, Jesus recognized James, John, and Peter as his inner circle, Luke 9:28-36. Jesus brings these three men along with him on special occasions, leaving the other nine disciples behind. This includes Jesus’ transfiguration in the mountains, resurrecting a little girl from the dead, and the healing of others close to death. Beside teaching each of these men about God’s spiritual powers, Jesus likely wanted to see how each of them responded to dire situations.

Now after this the Lord chose and appointed seventy others and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to come (visit). And He said to them, The harvest indeed is abundant [[a]there is much ripe grain], but the farmhands are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out like lambs into the midst of wolves, Luke 10:1-3.

Jesus wasn’t content with one ministry team. Rather, Jesus selected an additional 72 disciples to serve the Lord. According to Luke, Jesus chose and appointed these people based upon their commitment and willingness to surrender their lives as a servant of God. To avoid being overwhelmed, Jesus sends out 36 teams of two with specific instructions to follow in Luke 10. Like a swimming instructor, Jesus wanted to see who would sink and who would swim. As modern churches continue to encourage members to join a small group, don’t forget the Bible’s first small group leader and His advice left behind in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 64: Man Up Anthem

Following a conversation with one of my former Red Lion students, I discovered The 116, formerly 116 Clique. This American Southern Christian hip hop group originally from Dallas, Texas met the criteria that I was looking for in new Christian music. Between the lyrics and the beat, I felt an instant connection with this sound. The song Envy became an immediate favorite of my son Daniel and daughter Lydia.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside, 1 Corinthians 13:11.

In this age of wokeness, the Man Up Anthem does not apologize for taking a spiritual stand in life. One of the current problems in society is a lack of leadership. When you’re not held accountable by a church or group, most people end up doing what’s right in their own eyes. The 116 seeks to change this by encouraging boys to leave their childish ways by becoming a man of God. It’s time to Man Up.

by Jay Mankus

Use Guidance… Not Coercion

As a former teacher, I understand why some people may opt for coercion over guidance. Whenever an adult loses control of a classroom, the practice of persuading children to do something by force or threats is used as an act of desperation. After taking a Classroom Management graduate level course, I learned that students need structure. When you clarify your expectations and demonstrate a gentle but firm spirit, coercion is not necessary.

Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is [your responsibility], not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonorably motivated by the advantages and profits [belonging to the office], but eagerly and cheerfully; 1 Peter 5:2.

When I read and study the Bible, I see a big contrast between Jesus and the religious leaders of the first century. Jesus lived his life like a shepherd tending a large flock of sheep. Rather than oversee his disciples like a control freak, Jesus demonstrated how he wanted his followers to live their lives. Meanwhile, the Pharisees used God’s commandments, decrees and principles to coerce sinners into following religious practices.

Not domineering [as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation), 1 Peter 5:3.

Despite being a vocal leader, Peter understood the importance of emulating the life and patterns of Jesus. When a leader is domineering or overbearing, fear and peer pressure is used to manipulate other people. This is all exercised and laid out to achieve a desired outcome. Yet, rarely do these leaders consider if this is what Lord wants. While the addressing the Church at Galatia, the apostle Paul compares this style of leadership with witchcraft, Galatians 3:1-2. In view of this, may the Holy Spirit convince you to focus on guidance and not coercion.

by Jay Mankus

Stir Up, Stimulate and Incite the Love of Jesus

As a former high school teacher, there was always at least one student per class who knew how to stir up trouble. If I didn’t identify this individual quickly, it wasn’t long before I lost control of an entire classroom. Yet, stir up does include synonyms that can be construed as positive. In the passage below, one New Testament author refers to someone who generates, sparks and triggers an atmosphere of love.

And let us consider and give [d]attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, Hebrews 10:24.

As soon as someone sets the tone for a positive climate to exist, others are stimulated to follow. Yet, if Christians don’t lead the way consistently, it won’t be long until another person fills this leadership void. The author of Hebrews urges believers to be attentive, careful and watch over one another. Guidance is provided by studying the Bible which is the source to finding out how to love.

And this is the message [the message of [g]promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [[h]no, not in any way]. [So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents], 1 John 1:5-6.

While incite is often used in a negative manner, you can instigate a moment for the kingdom of God. In the passage above, light is the key to love. Unfortunately, all too often darkness enters the equation which tends to drag everyone else down. Therefore, if you want to stir up, stimulate and incite the love of Jesus, become partakers in Christian fellowship to inspire others to pass on God’s love.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming an Emotionally Draining Job

Every adult has experienced the unfortunate reality of having an emotionally draining job. This exhaustion may come from a stressful work atmosphere, dealing with difficult co-workers, the physical wearing and tear on your body or long 60 hour work weeks. Some of you may have to endure one of these factors while others of you face all four day after day and week after week. To those of you in a leadership role, the Bible does provide a plan to overcome an emotionally draining job.

And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices [to offer] to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God. 13 Next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, What is this that you do for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening? – Exodus 18:12-14

Prior to a visit from his father in law, Moses worked sun up to sun down. Instead of developing a justice system, Moses tried to be Judge Judy, head of the People’s Court and a Supreme Court justice. After observing for a couple of days, Jethro realized that Moses had become a lone ranger, trying to do everything by himself. Jethro’s solution to overcoming an emotionally draining job was to adopt the art of delegation. Sometimes you have to communicate to your boss, “I can’t do everything.”

Moses’ father-in-law said to him, The thing that you are doing is not good. 18 You will surely wear out both yourself and this people with you, for the thing is too heavy for you; you are not able to perform it all by yourself. 19 Listen now to [me]; I will counsel you, and God will be with you. You shall represent the people before God, bringing their cases and causes to Him, 20 Teaching them the decrees and laws, showing them the way they must walk and the work they must do. 21 Moreover, you shall choose able men from all the people—God-fearing men of truth who hate unjust gain—and place them over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, to be their rulers, Exodus 18:17-21.

Similar to the process set up by Jesus prior to his ascension into heaven, the Great Commission is a form of delegation to spread the Gospel throughout the world, Mark 16:14-20. King Solomon writes about the importance of relationships in Proverbs 27:17. When two individuals agree to hold one another accountable, positive criticism sharpens you. Yet, when you are emotionally run down, a friend can become a sounding board and a source of encouragement to give you the strength to carry on.

by Jay Mankus

When Fears are Replaced by Faith

Everyone has a personality with some more dominant than others. Personality is the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. While the outgoing tend to be more blunt, the shy leave subtle reminders to get your attention. This could be an exaggerated cough, specific body language or a certain facial expression to signal a need for help.

And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, Keep all the commandments with which I charge you today. And on the day when you pass over the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall set up great stones and cover them with plaster, Deuteronomy 27:1-2.

As Moses was about to hand over leadership responsibilities to Joshua, God used his writing of Deuteronomy to serve as a not so subtle reminder. According to Exodus 4:10-12, Moses was reluctant to be the verbal communicator for Israel. Apparently, Moses possessed a speech impediment, likely some form of stammering or stuttering. As someone who struggled with stuttering for two decades, whenever I opened my mouth, I never knew for sure what would come out.

And you shall write on them all the words of this law when you have passed over, that you may go into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, Deuteronomy 27:3.

Instead of looking at the power of His God, Moses could only see as far as his disability. This lack of faith irritated the Lord, sending his brother Aaron to be the voice piece of God until Moses developed the courage to face his fear. While Exodus does not speak of a healing, Moses began to find his voice during the Ten Plagues. If human beings could simply catch a glimpse of God’s healing power, fears would quickly fade, replaced by faith.

by Jay Mankus

Broken Vessels in Desperate Need of Help

The other night I was talking to a former colleague. Our conversation focused on individuals who portray super hero like characteristics in an attempt to be admired and promoted. As some individuals in leadership roles continue this facade, it’s only a matter of time until the truth comes out. While anyone can pretend that everything is dandy, fine and rosy, the reality is every human being is a broken vessel in desperate need of help.

But the firm foundation of (laid by) God stands, sure and unshaken, bearing this seal (inscription): The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names [himself by] the name of the Lord give up all iniquity and stand aloof from it. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also [utensils] of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and noble [use] and some for menial and ignoble [use], 2 Timothy 2:19-20.

The apostle Paul introduces an analogy to two first century churches. Romans 9:21 compares God as a potter and human beings as clay. If people go an extended time without spiritual water, Psalm 1:2-3, even the strongest will begin to crack as faith dries up. Until individuals are willing to submit to God, you won’t be able to be fashioned and molded into who God wants you to be, 2 Corinthians 4:7. Admitting that you have a problem is the first step toward healing.

So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work, 2 Timothy 2:21.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a democrat or republican, an atheist or a Christian, rich or poor, everyone needs help. You may be embarrassed of your secret addiction, bad habit or emotional state, but help is just a prayer away. You may not know what to say or where to go, but a simple confession is a great place to start, James 5:16. Whenever you take the risk of being real and genuine, God will send someone or a group to help pick up the pieces of your life. This is when the potter takes a lump of clay and transforms it into a wonderful piece of art.

by Jay Mankus

How Did It Get Like This?

If you have worked in a variety of positions or spent enough time at several different companies, you will go to work one day and hear someone say, “how did it get like this?” If there is an absence of leadership, a lack of communication, or a fatal flaw that goes unaddressed, issues can spin out of control. As one person passes the buck, pushing the responsibility down the road to the next person in line, a fine tuned operation can come to a screeching halt.

For every person will have to bear (be equal to understanding and calmly receive) his own [little] load [of oppressive faults].  Let him who receives instruction in the Word [of God] share all good things with his teacher [contributing to his support], Galatians 6:5-6.

In a letter to the Church at Galatia, the apostle Paul unveils the ideal scenario, followed by a root cause. When you share what you learn with others daily, positive things begin to happen. However, if you drift off course by becoming self-absorbed, the only thing these individuals care about is getting what is theirs. When self-promotion becomes a higher priority than doing what’s best for your team, it’s only a matter of time before things fall apart.

Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.) [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God.] For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap. For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life, Galatians 6:7-8.

Throughout scripture, sowing is used as a metaphor for one’s actions and reaping is the end result of these actions, A modern way of expressing this principle is that you get what you put into it. When corners are cut, standards are not followed, and procedures disregarded to save money, chaos will soon follow. Therefore, if you want to make a difference at your school or work, sow according to God’s Spirit so that eternal treasures will rain down from heaven.

by Jay Mankus

Picking Up of the Mantle of Your Spiritual Father

Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho and Jordan are 4 places with a rich historical and spiritual past. Israelites first camped in Gilgal after they crossed the Jordan River into the Holy Land While Moses led Israel out of Egypt, God raised up Joshua to lead Israel into the Promised Land. Meanwhile, the city of Bethel signifies our first beginnings of knowledge and understanding of God. At Jericho, God performed a miracle as Israel learned to trust God in a ridiculous manner before the walls came tumbling down. Finally, the Jordan River served as the place where the mantle of Elijah was passed on.

And Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up and struck the waters, and they divided this way and that, so that the two of them went over on dry ground. And when they had gone over, Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you. And Elisha said, I pray you, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me, 2 Kings 2:9-10.

In the context of leadership, a mantle is an important role or responsibility that passes from one person to another. When picked to become Elijah’s successor, Elisha asks to spend one more night with his family before saying goodbye. This decision is symbolic of rejecting the world by becoming all in for God. While it’s common for modern Christians to teeter back and forth, flirting with their former way of life, Elisha’s request for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit suggests a spiritual hunger. This prayer request was contingent upon seeing Elijah being taken up into heaven.

And Elisha saw it and he cried, My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and its horsemen! And he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 And he took the mantle that fell from Elijah and struck the waters and said, Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah? And when he had struck the waters, they parted this way and that, and Elisha went over, 2 Kings 2:12-14.

Although Elisha was mentally prepared for this day, his emotions got the best of him. The expression “my father, my father” is a moving way for Elisha to refer to Elijah as his spiritual father on earth. Elijah’s departure causes Elisha to respond like a son struggling to accept that his father will no never return. After a short period of mourning, Elisha is eager to find out if his prayer for a double portion has been granted. Elijah’s mantel, his cloak, fell to earth from the chariot in the sky. Thus, Elisha immediately grabs this mantel and struck the Jordan River. The parting of the Jordan is a clear sign that Elijah’s mantel and spirit was passed on to Elisha.

by Jay Mankus

A Special Endowment from God

Leadership is the action of leading a group of people through hardship, ordeals and trials. Genuine leaders cast a vision, take the initiative as a trail blazers to show the way and direct and guide followers through difficult times. Researchers have uncovered 12 different leadership styles that exist. A leadership style is merely the way a person uses power to lead other people. If you are still stuck at home as a non-essential worker, you’ve probably seen rogue governors of several states using the national guard and police officers to enforce their specific declarations. Several of these ordinances are unconstitutional, but these leaders are using fear of the Coronavirus to control American citizens.

Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity, 1 Timothy 4:12.

The older I become, the more I hear and see people blame God for disasters, failures or setbacks that they face in life.  Meanwhile, these same individuals, especially politicians, grandstand by taking credit for any accomplishment, success or victory in their city, state or county.  Instead of spreading around the praise to all the parties involved, press conferences are used to deflect blame while hoarding the credit.  Natural leaders don’t have to pretend to be successful as their labor is on display, a visible sign of spiritual fruit.  Unfortunately, God has become the scapegoat when things go wrong, a proverbial punching bag at the center of many complaints.

Do not neglect the gift which is in you, [that special inward endowment] which was directly imparted to you [by the Holy Spirit] by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands upon you [at your ordination]. 15 Practice and cultivate and meditate upon these duties; throw yourself wholly into them [as your ministry], so that your progress may be evident to everybody, 1 Timothy 4:14-15.

The passage above is a blue print for spiritual leadership. According to the apostle Paul, everyone is given a special endowment from God. This spiritual gift often lays dormant until the Holy Spirit enters your life through a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10. In the first century, the laying on of hands was a common practice for healing and prayer. The apostle Paul urges Timothy to fan into flame the spiritual gift revealed to him in 2 Timothy 1:6. In other words, you can’t be the leader God wants you to become until your spiritual gift is discovered and implemented. While you can’t control what others do or say, may this blog inspire you to show others the way as action speak louder than words.

by Jay Mankus

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