Coming Alongside Caleb

What does it look like for GMI to come alongside a leader as they seek to make Spirit-led decisions? It can look a million ways depending on what decisions the leader is facing, what information they need to know or what tools would be of greatest help in finding answers to the key questions.

But rather than give an example from a leader in some part of the world living today, I thought it might be helpful to imagine how we would help a key leader in Biblical times. There are many I could choose from but one that has been on my mind recently is Caleb.

Reporting the findings from Cannan: Caleb, as an up-and-coming leader of Israel from the tribe of Judah, was asked to do a research project in the land that God had promised the Israelites (Numbers 13). I can see GMI helping Caleb figure out how to capture all the data God asked Moses to collect. We would have been there to mentor him in that process and then to look at the data he brought back and give input. We would have been there to encourage him as he made his decision to stand up for how he thought God would want the Israelites to respond to the findings. We might even have helped him make some maps and infographics for his presentation.

Responding to the desert time: As Caleb was forced to wander in the desert, we are sure he did a lot of soul searching. He had some big challenges to face in his own faith, his community and his role as a leader. We might have encouraged him to go through our Breakthrough! curriculum to begin finding Spirit-led directions on how to proceed in his ministry.

Taking action for the Kingdom: When Caleb’s good friend Joshua took the reigns as the leader of Israel and they entered the Promised Land, Caleb asked Joshua for the chance to do what he could not do 40 years earlier (Joshua 14). In this moment of action, GMI might have provided maps of the territory and insight into how Caleb might proceed to finish the work God had given him to do.

Establishing peace in the Israel: As Caleb settled in and began to lead his tribe in the lands he had taken at God’s command, GMI would have been available to do research on the needs of the people as they settled. We might have given Caleb some of the understanding to define his leadership and ministry among those God gave him to care for. Maybe we would have been part of the process God used to define Hebron as a City of Refuge (Joshua 20).

This is all just speculation and not very realistic since our tools and resources would not have been available in that day. However, I have found it helpful to look into Scripture and place our efforts within its context. That helps me, and hopefully you as well, to really understand what it looks like for GMI serve Kingdom leaders today.

If you are a Kingdom leader seeking help in making Spirit-led decisions, then I hope we can serve you as you strive to do the ministry God has given you to do.

Why are Decisions So Hard?

If you ask anyone on the street to share about a tough decision they have had to make, you will undoubtedly hear about how difficult the process was. Decisions are hard to make. Why is that?

Well, partly because decisions require us to dig deep, understand our values and then make tough calls. Decisions impact our future and if we are leaders, they impact the future of others. Decisions also cause people to see us in a certain light. Our reputation is impacted.

So we struggle to make decisions. We wrestle with the options. We stay up late wondering what the repercussions might be.

I wish I had an easy answer for the challenges of decision-making, but I don’t. All I know is that each decision defines a leader and shows others their character. Decisions cause us to realize our mistakes or appreciate our discernment.

In the end decisions are one of the main tools that the Father uses to shape us into His image. God uses decisions to help us see our errors and to celebrate our victories. Each decision is a chance for us to get close to our Father in Heaven who uses every decision to bring us closer to Him.

Over the next few months I will be talking a lot about the process of making decisions and I will be learning right alongside you as we consider what it means to make Spirit-led decisions as Kingdom leaders. I hope you will join me on that journey of surrender and discovery!

Helping the Truth to Speak

Truth with a “T” is hard to discern in the sea of data that is shouting at us constantly. There are many facts that can be bent, twisted and molded to the purposes of the one standing at the podium, but Truth is often more elusive.

In the Gospels, Jesus broke through the reams of rules designed by the religious establishment with the power of a parable. We also see examples of how Jesus established Truth through simple but powerful actions.

In today’s world, visual tools such as maps and infographics are critical to helping Truth to speak. In the most recent Economist, they have an excellent piece on the power of textbooks to influence culture and a nation’s interests. But one quote from the article grabbed my attention. The reporter talked with Simone Lässig of the Georg Eckert Institute in Braunschweig, Germany. This group researches textbooks and has collected them from 160 countries. Which ones do you think might be the most debated across the globe? Lässig “says the most contentious are books covering history and geography, especially when they include maps…”

When I read that quote it jumped off the page. What a powerful insight into the fight for Truth in our world today! Leaders, activists, politicians and soldiers are fighting for the hearts of the next generation and they know that maps can lay bare many realities they would rather keep hidden and out of sight.

That makes the work of GMI so critical in today’s world where information is regularly used to deceive. Spirit-led research and creative presentation helps the Truth to speak loud and clear. The research and maps that our researchers and the countless other mission researches around the world are producing are key to giving us a True picture of the world as God sees it.

Fueling Leader’s Passion

“One who has a genuine burden for reaching the unreached wants to be informed and equipped.” Bob Waymire, founder of GMI

Recently I found an interview that GMI’s founder, Bob Waymire, gave in 1984 to Bruce Graham, consulting editor of the IJFM. What a treasure trove for me as I assume this new role to get a glimpse into how Bob described the ministry of GMI almost 30 years ago.

As I read his answers and thought about what it must have been like to pioneer digital mapping for missions just as computers were coming on the scene, I was struck by his vision and innovative thinking. But more than Bob’s willingness to go out on a limb and use new tools, I was struck by the quote I shared above.

Leaders who are serious about the task of bringing in God’s Kingdom want to know the information that will help them be effective and intentional. They want intelligence that they can then take before the Lord and ask God for His Spirit’s leading.

Now that intelligence might be in the form of statistics and numbers. But it also might be in the form of case studies, ethnographic research or personal accounts from the field. The job of the leader is not to limit the intelligence that they consider but to use discernment to judge the value of what is presented to them.

The challenge that I and others at GMI have today is to help meet this crucial need. We must continually be finding ways to see Kingdom research progress and then be presented in relevant ways. Sometimes we will do that work, other times we will provide training and still other times our job is to be the cheerleader for others who are doing excellent work.

In fact, my hope is that GMI will more and more be an organization who is networking, facilitating and publishing for the many wonderful missions researchers who are at work in every corner of the world. The goal is to fuel leaders with the information they need to accomplish what God has put in front of them.

When Bob finished his interview back in 1984 he said, “To a significant degree this project (GMI) is for them, the “harvest force” of the future.” Today leaders around the world are benefiting from his passion to make information available for the Kingdom effort. He and Mike O’Rear carried that vision forward and I am privileged to continue leading GMI as it serves Kingdom leaders.


Kingdom Information Leads to Real Leadership

There is something about a “can do” attitude that makes a leader. It is someone who sees the potential, brings a fresh optimism and plows ahead to realize their dream. But there is a dark side to this “can do” approach that I have seen play out in two leaders featured in the past year.

When leaders believe that optimism and zeal can trump the reality of a situation, it usually requires them to bend that reality to their will. For any of you who have read the latest biography of Steve Jobs, you see over and over in that book how Isaacson describes Steve’s ability to “distort” reality to accomplish his goals.

Another example came last night as I watched a 60 Minutes interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here is a man who has been successful in three different professions. In order to do that, he bent reality to his will and pushed through some significant character flaws in his life. He thought by ignoring his indiscretions, that he could be everything he wanted to be.

The reality of both of these people is that they successfully harnessed this world for their ends, but they destroyed countless people in the process. They had information about how this world worked, but they didn’t have Kingdom information. They were uninformed (either ignorantly or by choice) about the ways that God would look at their life’s work.

A Kingdom leader must lead out of Kingdom information. They must see those around them and the situations they come up against through God’s perspective. And then they must act. Steve and Arnold had a lot of this world’s information at their disposal but they were missing a Kingdom perspective. They gained success in the world’s eyes but in the Kingdom they failed when it counted most.

Our team at GMI is striving to help ministry leaders gain Kingdom insights for ministry. We hope that our resources, research and services can be a blessing to you as a Kingdom leader.