As I said in the last installment here, preachers love to hear themselves talk. But we’re not the only ones.
In fact, lots of people love to hear themselves talk. Our natural tendency is to convince people of how right we are about everything. And the more we can get people to agree with us, then the “right-er” we feel that we are.
Perhaps we invest too much time into being right, and not nearly enough time into doing right. Solid leaders are the ones who are engaging the activity of Christ on some level, perhaps many levels. Being a good leader/follower involves seeking those who are striving to preach the Gospel by BEING the Gospel.
In my research, work, and general conversations in the last five years, I’ve discovered a new attitude and a new search among both Christians and skeptics. These young adults are looking past the flash and flair in order to find Christian leaders who are actually doing something.
The masses seem to gravitate towards pastors with spiked hair and holes in their jeans, electric guitars and pyrotechnics. But there are leaders and followers who are seeking depth, and they’re finding it in what people do instead of what they say.
You can find this in people like Shane Claiborne and his chosen path for intentionally living with as little as possible, in order to give as much as possible (http://www.thesimpleway.org/shane/).
You can find it in people like my friend Chris Privette, who took the risk to go to work for Wycliffe Bible Translators. His testimony is all about being changed by action rather than going through the motions. (http://www.facebook.com/notes/chris-privette/the-trasformation-of-an-april-fool/177246812618).
You can find it in Pastor Deb Richardson-Moore, who leads Triune Mercy Center on the Northwest end of downtown Greenville, SC. She has written a book about her calling to find ways to help people on the streets of the city where I grew up. (It’s a steal on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Weight-Mercy-Novice-Streets/dp/085721229X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361510506&sr=8-1&keywords=deb+richardson-moore).
You can find it in people like like one of the deacons at Augusta Heights who gives tirelessly to the homeless and is starting on a new partnership with community schools. Or a young woman who is venturing to start a community garden. Or a staff member who gets paid for 20 hours but works 40 hours (or more) per week just to take care of everyone.
The funny thing is that none of these people consider themselves leaders. They just do what they feel led of the Holy Spirit to do. They inspire people and draw their admiration—not because of how much they say, but how much they do.
You may not have heard of any of these people (especially if you don’t attend Augusta Heights). The reason is that they don’t have time to impress you with their words, since they’re too busy doing what Jesus has commanded them to do.
Looking for leadership is more than combing Twitter for the most clever quotes. Following words will get you nowhere. Look for leaders who are doing something rather than talking. They probably won’t be big names or well-known, but they can show you what it means to follow Christ rather than just telling you about it.
They may actually be in your own back yard, or at the end of your typical pew. Start paying attention to actions rather than words, and you may find them.
Oh, and think about buying a book or sending a donation. Most of these folks have sacrificed making a living to follow Christ, and they could use your help. Links: