In my last post, I suggested that Leaders are Pot-Stirrers.
Before I get into some specific ways that leaders stir the pot, I should say that being a pot-stirrer is not a license to be a jerk. I’m not talking about making life difficult for people for the sake of being difficult. It’s all about God’s mission and God’s mission requires that leaders stir the pot. Leaders do that by “speaking the truth in love” (ironically, this phrase appears in a chapter that highlights the purpose of leadership as equipping Jesus-followers for the mission of the church—Ephesians 4).
Well, I’m sure there are a number of ways leaders stir the pot; here are three ways that I try to stir the pot …
1. Leaders stir the pot through biblical preaching. I think this is the primary way that I stir the pot. If God’s Word doesn’t challenge people, either it isn’t being communicated well or the hearers do not “have ears to hear.”
The Bible is full of pot-stirring stories. In fact, there’s a whole section of the Old Testament filled with messages from pot-stirrers (i.e., prophets). God’s Word was stirring then; it should be now, as well.
2. Leaders stir the pot through vision-casting. Leaders must constantly communicate a biblical, missional vision for the church—through preaching and every other available form of communication. By nature, vision is both unifying and divisive. It unifies people who embrace the vision, but it also divides as it forces people to choose between where they want to go and where God is leading the church to go.
Perhaps that’s part of what Jesus was getting at when he said, “Don’t think that I’ve come to bring peace to the earth. I haven’t come to bring peace but a sword. For I’ve come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. People’s enemies are members of their own households” (Matthew 10.34-36).
The vision of the kingdom of God life is also divisive, in the sense that it forces us to make a decision. Jesus said, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them” (Mark 8.34-35). That’s challenging stuff!
The leader’s task is to constantly lift up the missional vision of the church and the vision of life in God’s kingdom. In doing so, leaders stir the pot!
3. Leaders stir the pot by modeling a life of passionate discipleship. One of the (few) things I remember from college chemistry is that stirring water increases the temperature (something about the water molecules banging into each other, if I remember correctly). Leaders want to increase the temperatures of their churches. As leaders serve God with passion, passion is stirred in others, as well.
The Apostle Paul tells Jesus-followers in Romans, “The leader should lead with passion” (Romans 12.8). Paul also challenges his protege, Timothy: “fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you” (2 Timothy 1.6). If leaders are going to stir others, they must keep themselves stirred.
Why bother being a pot-stirrer?
In stirring the pot, we are being faithful to God’s call to leadership in the church. People are challenged to live differently, to live according to God’s Word. And the church stays focused on its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
But it’s not for the faint of heart. It takes courage to be a pot-stirrer (leader). Stirring the pot stirs passion in some, anger in others (a negative form of passion). I recently heard John Maxwell say, “If you’re a leader, you have an enemy.” Enemies are a painful reality. They come with the territory. Being a faithful pot-stirrer requires courage as well as commitment to God’s call.
The Apostle Paul challenges us, “Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord!” (Romans 12.11) Stir the pot!
What are other ways leaders do stir the pot?