“Eating soup with a fork is just like kissing,” said Corrie ten Boom one day over lunch . Surprised by this spontaneous remark from an old spinster, Romkje looked up from her bowl of soup. She saw the twinkle in Corrie’s eye and realised she was being tested for her sense of humour as the new secretary .
“You can never get enough of it!” explained Corrie, to the merriment of all the table guests.
I thought of that anecdote last week when I was in Seamill, Scotland. I was sharing with over thirty students from all continents at the Leadership Development Course run by Stephe Mayers and Barry Austin for several years now. The LDC is a six-week course with an emphasis on mentoring, and the discovery and development of individual giftings and callings. The course was in its last week and both students and staff were reflecting on the richness of their time together.
Enthusiastic reports too have been filtering through from the recent Leadership Training School (LTS) held in Barbados, led by Darlene Cunningham. Heidebeek leaders, Dick and Ulla Brouwer, were among the 138 students, 32 staff, 85 children, 20 nanny/tutors and 35 host staff representing 67 nations. The LTS stresses vision and the larger YWAM picture as well as project management, and the Brouwers have returned to Holland full of anticipation for future possibilities in YWAM.
As we bounced around Georgian and Armenian roads recently with Al and Carolyn Akimoff, and Lena Rouxdiko from St Petersburg, I discovered that this young Russian woman was another passionate graduate of the Barbados LTS. Al and Carolyn want to see many more Lenas from the former Soviet bloc receive leadership training. So along with Wolfi Jani and others, they will lead the next LTS in Kyiv (Kiev), in the Ukraine this coming fall. Already the school is pretty full with 120 applicants.
But is all this leadership training really necessary? Is anybody actually DOING anything? Or is everybody just busy with training, training, training?
Well now, I don’t think we are in danger of having too many leaders in YWAM – or in the body of Christ. I fear the opposite – not enough leadership. That danger has been highlighted here in Holland over the last remarkable month when we have experienced a political earthquake with the murder of Pim Fortuyn. This popular charismatic openly homosexual pretender to the premiership was gunned down outside a radio studio. His shocking death has created a national sense of emptiness, shared by all whatever they thought of Fortuyn. We are experiencing a rare season in Holland. The question is if the body of Christ can provide the leadership to show the way forward.
Of course we have the right answer: Jesus is the answer. But how do we translate this answer to the specific questions people in all sectors of life are asking? Why do we have such difficulty providing leadership in the community? I heard last week of a meeting between church leaders and the mayor of Amsterdam, who asked them what they had to offer to the city.
Now that’s a very good question. What if Christian leaders – and by that I don’t mean just or even primarily pastors, but leaders in education, business, the arts, politics etc etc – got their heads together and made a specific short list of what the Christian community would commit itself to do for the city? Just think about that for a minute – what could be the outcomes?
I was anxious to know what answer the mayor received. I was told the leaders had gone away to think about it. I sure hope they do.
I’m reminded of the warning God gave to Israel about being the head and not the tail. If they were obedient to their calling, they would be the head; if not, they would become the tail (compare Deut. 28, verse 13 with verse 44). When it comes to leadership in the community, too often we have become the tail. That’s true in most parts of Europe.
Yes, we need much more true leadership. Let’s distinguish that from management, which aims to keep current systems running well. Leadership is about direction and vision, recognising and responding to change. The more change, the more leadership is required. In this day of accelerating change, the body of Christ is in danger of being overmanaged and underled, not of being overled and undermanaged.
In YWAM, we can’t just wait for leaders to emerge. We have to seek out those with leadership potential and mentor them. That’s what made me think of Tante Corrie: Eating soup with a fork is just like leadership training – we can never get enough of it!
Heads or tails? It’s our call.