We are currently developing some material in workbook form for study groups using Michael Eaton’s Preaching Through the Bible Slices, beginning with Mark’s gospel. The target audience is the leaders of the future in those parts of the world where training materials are scarce or unaffordable (those attending secondary schools and universities particularly).
Of course, leaders don't appear overnight; the majority of tomorrow’s leaders are today are still at school. Our materials are being written to provide something to help them now for the days ahead. However, the material need not be confined to younger students, it is also applicable to a broad variety of older readers, especially those for whom English is a second language or who may not have had the opportunity to complete a great deal of formal education.
Although written for leaders and potential leaders, our workbooks are not about the nuts and bolts of how to be a leader. There are other good books that cover that. Nevertheless, Mark has a very important contribution to make, which may not perhaps, be immediately obvious. Simply put, Jesus is the 'leader of leaders'. He is our leader. He is the person we follow. As we follow Jesus others follow us. Learning about the kind of person Jesus is helps us to depend on Him, to follow Him and to do things His way.
In Mark's gospel we see Jesus, our leader in action! We can only be good and effective Christian leaders when we ourselves being led by Jesus. In the New Testament, as the church grew and leaders were appointed, an important qualification was Godly character. (Read for example in Acts 6 how the seven were full if the Holy Spirit and wise, and Paul's advice to Timothy on appointing elders in his letters). Of course leaders need to be competent and gifted to fulfill their responsibilities effectively. But the primary qualification is one of character. Reading Mark's gospel helps us to absorb and cultivate the character of Jesus. With the help of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit His character can be reproduced in us. We share his motivation and aims and as Mark particularly presents Him, his friendliness to others. This is important because sometimes religious people can come across as severe and judgemental. Jesus did not come to point out all our faults and failings. He brings good news! He forgives. He heals. He blesses. He helps. He equips.
Another aspect of Jesus that Mark particularly brings out is that of the obedient son. Obedience is the characteristic of the true disciple and follower of Jesus Christ. Mark's Gospel shows us the outworking of Jesus' obedience during his ministry. He is our role model. A Christian leader is someone who seeks to obey God.
An important question to consider is how leaders should think of success. How should it be measured? In the world of business and education people talk about success indicators. In popular culture, the numbers of followers, the number of sales, the size of the budget or visible material benefits are often seen as measures of success. But we need to be careful not to import these ideas into God's work. Judged by these criteria, Jesus was not a success. The enthusiastic crowds turned against Him. He had no slick and glamorous organisation. He was not materially prosperous. He died a criminal's death. But he was very successful because He accomplished the will of His Father. He overcame all Satan's enticements in the wilderness and lived a life of faithful obedience. God was pleased with Him and said so from the heavens and indeed God raised Him from the dead. Mark's gospel illustrates for us the true measure of success which is faithfulness to the will of God. It is important that leaders know and understand this. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul explains that one of the functions of leaders is to equip God's people for works of service. This is precisely what Jesus did as described by Mark.
Success in leadership is to enable others to understand and grow and in the fullness of time, when they are ready, take on responsibility themselves. Sometimes leaders try to hold on to people because it gives them a sense of significance. That is not the Jesus way. Releasing others to go and serve God themselves is the way the kingdom grows.
We will update you on the progress of our workbooks and related materials over the coming months.
Sovereign World Trust
Kent TN11 0ZS
(NOT for sat navs!)
We are a UK registered charity, No 327284