When caring for the needy means us

OM International | International

The excellent article that SuLing wrote last month on living and operating with polarities in OM has stirred my thinking about what kind of leadership will be necessary in the future at all levels of our organisation. What kind of leadership will be able to manage the polarities of global centre and field operations, of freedom and accountability, of structured and emergent, and of centralised and de-centralised? As SuLing points out, we should not be living for a zero-sum game (win-lose), but a both/and context that brings opportunities for growth.

In order to fulfil our mandate, there are several needs we must invest in:

1. To be able to connect across boundaries. We are generally divided into geographical fields in OM, but my observation has been that fields grow and thrive where the leadership collaborates well with cross-boundary stakeholders, especially other OM fields and ministries, as well as other organisations and networks.

2. To innovate. At this time in OM’s history, I hope that innovators can come to the fore: Innovators in how we ‘do’ ministry, in how we collaborate, in how we find new solutions for old problems and in how we seize opportunities. 

3. To learn to live with ambiguity. For sure, we will need to be highly intentional, but that may happen in the midst of contexts of ambiguity. The networks of relationships and collaboration and the need for innovation involve, at multiple levels, adjustments in how freedom and accountability is worked out. Although that can be complicated and ambiguous, we will need to live in that space at times.

4. To have a Kingdom theology. Someone suggested recently that, sometimes, we in OM have subordinated the theology of the Kingdom of God to the principle of the nation state. We do live and operate in a nation-state world, but this should absolutely not be our guiding principle and motivation. The question is not what is good for me, my ministry or my field but what is good for the gospel, for God’s glory, and for seeing vibrant communities of Jesus followers among all least-reached peoples and societies. This Kingdom mindset can revolutionise the way we operate, lead, collaborate and, fundamentally, how we see the world, the mission, and our part in it. 

5. To handle power well. Power is often seen negatively, but the reality is that all leadership is an exercise of power in some way. How we handle that power is crucial. Do we use it to protect ourselves or to empower others? Do we use it to maintain our own kingdom or to serve the Kingdom of God?

6. To be rooted locally. One of the things I admire about really good leaders I have served under or observed from a distance is that they are rooted locally in a believing community, and contributing to its life. We are not called to be individual followers of Jesus, but part of a community that follows Jesus, and the type of leadership that we will need in the future—though global in thinking and scope—needs to be rooted in a local community of Jesus followers.

7. To be close to our Lord. It is in Him, through Him and for Him that we have our being. We cannot have a Kingdom mindset if we are not in fellowship with the King; we cannot handle power well if we are not submitted fully to the Almighty; we cannot lay down our freedoms and rights for the sake of the work of the gospel if we are not trusting Him who laid aside His majesty for us; and we cannot live in forgiveness and reconciliation if we are not experiencing the love and forgiveness of the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Stephan Bauer first went with OM to the Middle East as an 18 year old. Since then, he's spent most of his adult years in the OM Middle East North Africa region, as has his wife. The couple has a nine-year-old daughter who enjoys opportunities to correct her dad's Arabic.

Published: Wednesday, 01 November 2017
Credit: OM International
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