August 21, 2005
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend, 

    It's great doing a multi-part series. When Peter Jackson produced The Lord of the Rings trilogy, all three films were done together. In the editing process, the triplets were separated and packaged apart from one another. Nonetheless, if you popped into your local cinema to see The Return of the King (#3) without the benefit of The Fellowship of the Ring (#1) or The Two Towers (#2)... you would have been virtually clueless. Hobbits? Dwarfs? Saron? Who are these characters... and what's going on here?

    If you've been out-of-touch over the last few weeks, let me bring you up to speed. We've been examining five questions posed by Peter Drucker for leaders who are responsible for mobilizing and managing non-profit enterprise. If you have leadership in the Kingdom context - or, should - these are profound issues to ponder. His five questions are concise: What is our mission? Who is our customer? What does the customer value? What are our results? What is our plan?Today, we're on the next-to-last installment; the question is: What are our results?

    Managers address "what?" Leaders address "so what?" What bespeaks process; so what emphasizes outcomes.

    In the Christian world, it's sometimes easy to fall into an activity trap wherein we believe that "doing the right thing" is a sufficient end in itself. The biblical concept of "faithfulness" is a principle that is often enmeshed in the continuum of unexamined behavior. As long as I conceive some preoccupation to be "right," the need to see results is somehow mitigated. All that matters - or, so this line of reasoning goes - is that I be "faithful" (read: plodding along with no need to see an impact from the efforts). In this camp, the theory is that character is demonstrated by not needing to see positive confirmation of the validity of behavior. No "bottom line" is required by which to manage... or, to manage better.

    Is that disconnection from evidentiary confirmation biblical? Can I just go about "serving" without auditing the effectiveness of my labors... and be sure that I'm on the right track?

    There was a man called by God to run the relay lap that preceded Jesus' time around the track. John the Baptist was "not the light; he came only as a witness to the light" (John 1:8). John introduced Jesus to the Jewish community of the First Century... and was then arrested by Herod. From his dungeon cell, John wanted confirmation that the baton had been passed to the right runner. He sent his own disciples to Jesus, asking for proof that he was the One sent from God: "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

    Jesus was no stranger to tough questions. The #1 strategy of the Jewish leaders - during the three year public ministry of Jesus - was to send shills into Jesus' public appearances to pose tough questions, in an effort to stump the Savior. "Let the crowd see him squirm" was their plan. Instead, Jesus' rhetorical prowess sent the Pharisees' top talent back, embarrassed by his superior eloquence.

    Not with John. How could Jesus prove his validity? Listen: "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor..." (Matthew 11:2-5) Wow!

    Jesus saw results. "Yeah, but he was God. What do you expect? That was then, and this is now..." Can we expect to see supernatural results from the work done in service to Jesus... though not by Jesus?

    "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father..." (John 14:12) Jesus' work spawned results; he said that the work we would do on his behalf would produce even greater results. Fruit that lasts, bottom line.

    In The Master's Program, we don't have book reports or examinations. Instead, we see the leaders served through TMP in their bold initiatives, undertaken in the name of Jesus, pursue their Kingdom commission and calling. Their successes are our evidence of effectiveness. "Go back... and report what you hear and see." We're on-the-hunt for results... and we find 'em. What are your results? Are they evident?

Bob Shank

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