No clue.
No idea.
Oblivious.

Getting married and having kids didn’t come with a manual.

Because I grew up without a father, being a husband and a dad didn’t come easy. But one thing’s for sure – this was one endeavor I wanted to succeed in.

“Refuse to sacrifice family on the altar of success.”

This rang in my head since the first time I heard this statement.

During one semestral break, we took the kids out of town.  With us were the Sy’s (Dennis, Thammie and kids), Marge, Teri and Bruce.

As a family, we often take the opportunity to take off when we can because schedules have been crazy these days.  Even our kids are now ‘busy’ – from basketball to musical theater, Friday Night Youth services to piano lessons.

During one of our conversations over breakfast, Thammie asked me a question, “What are your core values as a family?” I really didn’t have a nice, carved out answer.  I guess all these years Jenn and I have operated on instincts and never really wrote down our ‘core values’.

I know many have written books these type of stuff like Patrick Lencioni who wrote a book entitled “Three Big Questions For A Frantic Family”.  I know that James Dobson have written a few books on these too.

While driving home, I thought about that question again and I began listing down guiding principles we worked with through the years as a family.

1. LOVE GOD.

If we can teach our kids to do this, then I feel we’re on the right direction.  We desire to help them develop a relationship with God.  We feel that that is the most important task we have as parents – to connect them with God.

We won’t be there for them all the time, but if they have a relationship with their Heavenly Father, then we know that they’ll be just fine.

2. LOVE FAMILY.

Respect. Compassion. Love for family.
I guess that’s why we invest (not spend) on family vacations though we have an old, clunky van.

Memories have been a priority for us.  We may not have a lot to leave them in terms of inheritance, but memories through times together is definitely on the top of our list. Seeing my kids love each other and look out for each other is definitely another important one for us.

PRAYER FOR MY FAMILY: to understand His radical grace in a greater measure each passing day.

3. LOVE OTHERS.

Service. Empathy. We want to teach our family not to just think about themselves, which we already are are very good at.  Life is really not about us.

It’s about God and the people He loves.

4. LOVE LEARNING.

With the influx of information today, the accumulation of it is no longer the key to success.

Everything is now ‘googlable’.

However, processing and filtering of information is now the name of the game.  Critical thinking has never been as critical.  If we are successful in inputing love for learning, then I feel they will accomplish what God has designed them to be and do.

I was oblivious to being a husband and dad. But thankfully, by the grace of God, I have learned from His Word and have been surrounded by shining examples who are neither perfect nor flawless yet live under the shadow of God’s radical love and God’s radical grace. For that, I am forever grateful.

How do you define leadership?

If you go to Amazon and search for leadership books, you will find 118,847 of them and the number is continuously growing.
People define leadership in many ways. It is defined as directing a group, the act of guiding, establishing clear vision and direction. One famous definition states that leadership is influence.

But if you go to the Scriptures, Jesus defined leadership differently.
He said, “Leadership is serving.”

“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35.

Here are a few qualities of a servant leader.

1. HUMILITY

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:1)

Paul writes a letter to Timothy and calls him son. He was not his biological son. He was a son in the faith. Timothy was Paul’s constant companion and took him under his wing to disciple him and raise him up as a leader.

By this time of his writing, Timothy was already leading the church in Ephesus. But the mentoring relationship continued even after Timothy has become a leader.

Leaders acknowledge the need for constant mentoring. Unfortunately, many when they take positions of leadership become too proud to listen to people’s advice and start asserting their own opinions. I like what someone said, “Opinions are like armpits. Everyone has one. And some of them stink.”

Do you have people who speak into your life? You need them.

Leadership begins with “follower-ship.” I realize that that’s not a word but I think it’s a good concept. (Those who are grammar Nazis, just bear with me.)

2. STRONG IN GRACE

Paul told Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

What does it mean to be strong in grace?

It is to acknowledge that the only reason why we can achieve success is because of the empowering grace of God. The grace of God allows us to be who God called us to be and do what God has called us to do.

Timothy had a Jewish mom but a Gentile father. This was not an ideal situation. In fact, “half breeds” were looked down upon just like the Samaritans in those days. Yet God used Timothy to be a leader in the church in Ephesus.

As a leader, you might feel that God cannot use you because of your background, history, experience or lack of pedigree.

But remember this, God doesn’t call the qualified but He qualifies the called.

Paul understood this and emphasized to Timothy to be strong in the grace – to know that He enables us to be who God called us to be and do what He called us to do.

3. RELIABILITY

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Timothy was a reliable follower who became a reliable leader. Paul mentioned people who were unreliable and deserted him (2 Timothy 4:10,16). But he commended Timothy for proving to be dependable. (Philippians 2:22)

Paul then tells Timothy to look for reliable men.

Remember, it’s hard to find reliable people if you don’t know what reliable means.
It’s equally difficult to encourage people to be reliable if you are not reliable yourself.

Reliability as a leader also means making tough decisions. Timothy was in a church that lost their first love (Revelation 2:4). In addition, they were starting to accommodate heretical teachings. Because of this, Timothy had to step up even as a young leader to make tough decisions.

Leaders make decisions.
Leaders make tough decisions.
Leaders make tough decisions no one wants to make.
Leaders take responsibility for the decisions they’ve made.

4. REPRODUCTION

Leaders know that it’s never about them. They know that ultimately, their job is to work themselves out of their job.

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Timothy visited Paul in Rome while he was incarcerated. Timothy at one point was incarcerated himself.

They both knew that they can’t be the leader forever. Because it was a major possibility that they could be jailed or executed, they needed to raise future leaders who can take the gospel and advance the kingdom of God.

“Go into leading with the idea of leaving.”

Pastor Steve and Deborah Murrell were only supposed to be in the Philippines for a month hoping to pass on the leadership of Victory to Filipinos. But what was supposed to be 1 month turned into a couple of decades. They led with the idea of leaving which resulted to an empowering culture.

Lead with the idea of leaving. It’s never about you.

I’m glad we have this as a core value and has been embedded in our corporate culture.

We are averse to the “Rock Star Pastor Philosophy.”
I’m glad that our pastors raised leaders (including me) and believed in us when no one did, allowing us to make dumb mistakes and learning from them.

We don’t have leaders that preach the whole day and if they get tired, take a video of them and that’s what’s shown in the afternoon and evening services.

I appreciate Pastor Steve teaching us that we are TO lead the next generation and lead WITH the next generation. The goal is to raise leaders who will be better than us.

Servant leaders know it’s never about them for there is only one name that is going to be made famous – JESUS (period).

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Other blogs on Leadership:

1. Stuff My Dad Told Me by Joe Bonifacio

2. To Lead is to Lean, Learn, Live, and Love by Carla Bonifacio

3. Lead To Leaveby Paolo Punzalan

4. Raising Leaders Right In Your Home by Jen Punzalan

5. I Don’t Think So by Jekoy Valle

6. Deny Yourself by Dennis Sy

7. Failures and Beginnings by Sofia Paderes

8. WATERLINE: The marks of Leadership by Perci Paras

9. Influence by Charls de los Reyes

10. He Must Become Greater by Rinnah Ramirez

The first time I heard this word, it sounded scary, loaded and so old school like a Socrates and Plato type of relationship until someone explained it to me in simple terms – discipleship is following Jesus and helping others follow Him.

Some of you might know that I didn’t grow up with a father. Not seeing him for 15 years was tough. It built a lot of insecurity inside of me wondering why my classmates had a complete set of parents and how come I didn’t.

I gave my life to Christ when I was 17 years old but I was still clueless about life which was why many of the foolish decisions I could’ve avoided I wasn’t able to avoid.

Fortunately, God totally restored my relationship with my dad. But that’s another blog.

Back to discipleship.

Because of my situation, growing up, I was always with women – my mom, my sister, our house helpers. I didn’t really have male role models in my life. My elementary and high school teachers were mostly women. The only guys I hung out with were my baseball and basketball teammates and our coaches.

I had no clue how to treat women properly, man up to personal responsibility and address certain challenges with courage.

Gratefully, God allowed me to get into a group of men who modeled manhood to me.

Manny, Steve, Ariel, Joey, Ferdie, Joel are some of my heroes today who helped me become who I am today as a man, leader, husband and father. I am also thankful for those who influenced me early in my walk with God – Bill, Gregg, Chaz and Melvin.

A lot of what I learned was caught rather than taught.

It’s one thing to teach the Word, but it’s another thing to live the Word.
These men I’ve mentioned became amazing examples for me to imitate.

I love what Dwight L. Moody said,
“Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other ninety-nine will read the Christian.”

I’m thankful to have read from lives of men who obviously weren’t perfect but lived a life that honored God.

Discipleship is following Jesus and helping others follow Him.

Are you following Him and helping others follow Him?

PS. Why don’t you take a moment and message (SMS, email, Twitter or Facebook) someone who has made an impact in your life? Message someone who followed you up, shared God’s love with you and helped you follow Jesus. I’m sure they would appreciate hearing from you.

People share many things through their social networks but how significant they are may differ from one account to another. From food to friends, good news to bad reports, from highs to lows, people either randomly or deliberately post their photos and thoughts.

There even those who posted photos of themselves sleeping being taken by themselves. (I know that my statement doesn’t really make sense.)

We share our thoughts about a nice new movie, a mega sale coming up, passing the board exam among many others.

But while we share a lot of things that may seem inconsequential, why can’t we share the most important and powerful thing that has radically changed our lives? If the gospel of Jesus has transformed us, why are we not sharing it?

I reckon we don’t understand the reason behind why God wants us to.

Jesus told a parable in Luke 15:1-7. A shepherd lost one sheep. And instead of staying with the 99, he risks everything to run after the 1. Now THAT doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense because leaving the 99 in the open fields mean wolves ravaging them. It also doesn’t make sense because it seems that staying with the 99 may sound more logical.

But Jesus said that the shepherd runs after the 1.
Why? Because each one matter to God.
Every lost person matters to God.

What does it mean to leave the 99 and run after the 1?

1. VALUE THE LOST.

Seeing people the way Jesus sees them is the starting point. Oftentimes, we see people on the basis of the externals – cars they drive, watches on their wrists, address on their business card, clothes they wear.

But people don’t matter to God because of these. They matter to God because each have been created in the image and likeness of God.

As long as there’s one lost person out there, we have not accomplished our mission.

2. PREACH THE GOSPEL.

Evangelism seems like a daunting word. But simply put, it is sharing the good news of Jesus’ salvation by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It simpler terms, it is talking to others about what we’ve experienced so that others can experience Christ as well.

Is it just about numbers? Yes and no.
Numbers are important to God that He wrote a book entitled Numbers.
No, because it’s not just about numbers.
Because behind every number is an individual.
Behind every individual is a name.
Behind every name is a story.
And every story matters to God.

Valuing the lost is the starting point. Preaching the gospel is the action point.

3. CELEBRATE THE FOUND.

When the shepherd finds the lost sheep, he calls all his friends to party.

This is how heaven sees when even just one comes to Christ. All of heaven parties.

We cannot share what we have not experienced.

If we have not experienced the life changing power of Jesus, there’s no way we’re sharing it. It’s like a salesman talking you into buying something he doesn’t even believe in.

 

TWICE MINE

Let me illustrate using a story.

Tommy carried his new boat to the edge of the river. He carefully placed it in the water and slowly let out the string. How smoothly the boat sailed! Tommy sat in the warm sunshine, admiring the little boat that he had built. Suddenly a strong current caught the boat. Tommy tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke. The little boat raced downstream.

Tommy ran along the sandy shore as fast as he could. But his little boat soon slipped out of sight. All afternoon he searched for the boat. Finally, when it was too dark to look any longer, Tom mysadly went home.

The next day, on the way home from school, Tommy spotted a boat just like his in a store window. When he got closer, he could see — sure enough — it was his!

Tommy hurried to the store manager: “Sir, that’s my boat in your window! I made it!”
“Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning. If you want it, you’ll have to buy it for one dollar.”

Tommy ran home and counted all his money. Exactly one dollar! When he reached the store, he rushed to the counter. “Here’s the money for my boat.”

As he left the store, Tommy hugged his boat and said, “Now you’re twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you.”

Think about what Tommy said. It’s exactly what God is saying to you and to me.

Now you’re twice mine. First I made you and now I bought you.

God made us in His image and likeness. But it wasn’t He who broke the string. We deliberately, intentionally and rebelliously broke that string.

But in spite of that, He was the One who pursued and made an all out search for us.

We are twice His. First He made us, now He bought us… a price we couldn’t cough up.
We owed a debt we couldn’t pay. And He paid a debt He didn’t owe.

That’s radical love.

And that radical love demands a radical response – to go out into all the nations and preach that radical love that we’ve experienced.