Called Out: Three Calls to Leaders
The principals of ARTIOS share a common story, a common decision, a common sense of the future. In each of our cases we feel the call from the Lord Jesus to come “out” and “up” to an entirely new place in our walk as disciples and leaders. ARTIOS was born out of that call to walk in a new dimension of commitment as we strive to finish our individual races. We founded ARTIOS to express these convictions and invite others who feel similarly called to be a part of this fellowship. We are also here to help fully equip others finish their races. Below, we share some of our individual stories and what that “call” means in the formulation of ARTIOS.
by Scott Rodin, Partner, Strategic Alliances
In my book The Steward Leader, I shared something quite revealing as I reflected on my many years of nonprofit leadership. I came to the conclusion that I had been mostly wrong. Now I was not wrong about everything. There is much that I’m thankful for, many moments to treasure and certainly a legacy that I hope and trust will make a difference to generations that follow. But what I was wrong in was my understanding of leadership in Christian ministry. I was also wrong in my expectations of others and myself. And, what may be the hardest to admit, I was wrong in my motives.
My problem was not with preparation, motivation or even with a lack of a sense of calling or sincere desire to serve God with the best of my skills and abilities. The problem lay solely with my understanding of the nature of Christian leadership. At any moment in my trajectory as a leader, I would have most identified with Nathan’s directive to David in 2 Samuel 7:3: “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.” I could identify with David as “God’s man at God’s time.” And with that perspective I pursued a career in Christian leadership, believing in His mandate and expecting His blessing.
Reflecting back on my leadership experiences and the leadership I have witnessed in my years of consulting, I would now point to a different verse. In speaking of Jesus’ incarnation, Paul tells us that Jesus “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.” It does not say that Jesus became a man of bad or questionable reputation, but simply of no reputation. That is, reputation, image, prestige, prominence, power and other trappings of leadership were not only devalued, they were purposefully dismissed.
I have come to the conviction that true Christian leadership is an ongoing, disciplined practice of becoming a person of no reputation and, thus becoming more like Christ. The former verse was a direct word spoken from God to a specific person, and I extrapolated it to apply to me and to Christian leadership in general. The latter verse was a description of the nature of Jesus, whom I am called to follow. The former focused on God’s blessing on my work, the latter on my response of obedience and submission to His nature.
A Call to Surrender
With ARTIOS, we are desirous to equip in many areas that could be of help to nonprofit organizations, kingdom ministries. But we wish to begin on the right foundation. We feel the call to fully surrender to the Lord Jesus and become leaders of “no” reputation. This call is true for eternity and very necessary today. We are inviting you to consider that call as well. As a leader, will you surrender anew to the Lord Jesus and seek to become of no reputation? Will you lay aside the trappings of power, relevance, honor, significance, and reward and step out anew and “follow” Him?
This call is the foundation of ARTIOS. It’s part of what we mean by “fully committed.” It is the foundation of all that we consider to be godly stewardship, and the first step to a new dimension of leadership. I am learning that everything new flows from the transformed heart of a godly steward. As we indeed offer only our vulnerable self, we can do so with great joy because it leads to transformation and joy. I am happy to be on this journey and for those who can identify with this call, I hope you will join us.
by John Savage, Partner, CEO
Recently I have been doing some mid-course reflecting. I have served numerous U.S. and Canadian not-for-profit organizations over the past 25 years, endeavoring to help them increase their organizational effectiveness and expand their resources. It has been an awesome privilege to stand with ministries who seek to grow and advance their missions for the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of people they collectively serve.
I have always embraced the great work that Christian ministries accomplish. Jesus instructed his followers to be his hands and feet to a needy world and all efforts to accomplish that connect to my own personal core values. The needs are great and I applaud the large number of evangelicals ministries who make it their core business to meet those needs.
In my long-time pursuit to serve God and further his Kingdom primarily through the personal and professional support of Christian organizations and churches, I acquired a familiarity and genuine love for Christians, Christian organizations, and Christian culture. I enjoy collaborating with others of similar calling and belief.
I came to the sudden awareness a few months ago, however, that my love for serving God and furthering his Kingdom was perhaps more prominent in my heart and mind than my love for Jesus Christ himself. I was jolted by the question of whether I was serving God more than I was loving God. I talk about God, I read about God, and I serve with others who are children of God. All good things! Even better, however, is hungering for God himself. I wanted to sense his presence, to hear his heartbeat, to “taste and see that God is good,” Psalm 34:8. I wanted to wait expectantly for him to fill my heart and mind with the knowledge of himself as revealed through his Word.
In truth, the Lord was calling me back to a singular focus on Him.
In Luke 10:38-42, Luke recites the encounter where Jesus and his disciples enter the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Mary was the one who “sat at the feet listening to what Jesus said.” Martha was very distracted with all of the work that needed to be done and grew resentful. Jesus replied, “You are upset about many things, but only one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen what is better.”
This passage sums up the prompting that I felt from the Lord.
Jesus didn’t say that the things Martha was doing were bad, it was only that Mary had chosen that which was better. There is only ONE THING that is needed and that is to sit at the feet of Jesus. I felt the call to that singular focus. I needed to set aside anything that would present itself as a distraction and once again devote myself to following and loving Christ more than following and loving Christian service and Christian culture.
A Call to One Thing
For me, ARTIOS represents a call to come out from under the good and helpful things that Martha was doing to embrace the heart of devotion demonstrated by Mary.
My call to Christian leaders is to join me in the singularity of focus on loving our Lord Jesus Christ. We all pay lip service to this idea but to truly see it bear fruit we must invite the Holy Spirit to illumine what needs to change in our heart and mind. We must intentionally stoke the fires of devotion that drive us to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him,” Psalm 37:7.
Jesus calls us to better things. It’s not that the present is bad; it’s just that there is something better. Jesus said that one thing mattered and that was sitting at His feet and communing with Him.
That’s a radical call and I have intensified my commitment to this pursuit. We at ARTIOS have embarked on this journey together and we invite you to journey with us to make the “one thing” preeminent in each of our lives.
Psalm 42:1-2, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
by Shelley Cochrane, Partner, Program Design
Everyone’s story is unique and the events of my life are quite likely uncharacteristic of other Christian leaders. In the spirit of transparency, I share with you that I started at a significant deficit in my personal life. My early years were characterized by a vulnerability that wasn’t a concept — it was a reality. I grew up with serious challenges and painful experiences that brought me into adulthood honestly wondering whether I could possibly move on in life in a productive way. I share this not in the spirit of self-pity but in honesty.
But my vulnerability turned out to be a wonderful blessing from God. In my despair I discovered what it meant to walk by faith – to totally and completely trust in God alone and to wait for him to speak. My experience confirmed the words of Francis Schaeffer, “He is there and He is not silent.” He was active in my life and I knew it.
I stand today in testimony of the amazing redemptive work of Jesus Christ. I love the profound truths of Hebrews 10: 20-21: “And since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” and verse 38 and 39, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”
It’s a striking realization to consider that my very salvation came through identifying with Jesus’ ultimate vulnerability on the cross. Jesus tells us to “take up your cross and follow me.” Vulnerability can produce a rich blessing that spawns deep joy when it drives us to the cross and to the transforming power of the resurrection.
A Call to Vulnerability
The call to vulnerability means several things: 1) A true understanding that the Lord is our sufficiency; 2) Laying aside our human accomplishments to fundamentally put our confidence in the living God; 3) An honest transparency about the need for improvement in our lives and our ministries; 5) Being willing to listen to others who are younger and less experienced; 6) Embracing new “wineskins” as God anoints and inspires; 8) Being willing to go through a fresh path of discipleship to realize the upward call.
There are real pressures on leaders to perform, project strength, have all the answers and never show weakness. Few job descriptions for leadership positions ask for a leader that demonstrates transparency and vulnerability as a top qualification.
At a foundational level, ARTIOS is not about running an organization or how to be an effective leader or even about how to be a person of good character. ARTIOS is about re-realizing that we are first and foremost disciples called to love God with our whole heart, soul, strength and mind.
When we pursue God with every part of our being, we emerge with an integrated, balanced life that bears fruit. The fruitfulness of a transformed life, in turn, helps organizations run well, leaders become effective, and people demonstrate Christ-like character.
My expedition of faith is decorated with spiritual markers along the way. Each touch by God has strengthened my resolve to not shrink back but to persevere no matter what transpires. God continues to prove that he can be trusted and I continue to experience God active in my life every single day.
I’m honored to be a part of ARTIOS and serve in the area of program design. ARTIOS is a tool in God’s hand to effect change in lives that are sold out to him. We don’t know what lies ahead, but we have the rock-solid confidence that God is at work.