New Article Published: Encouragement in Foresight

The American Journal of Biblical Theology just published one of my articles. You can check out Encouragement in Foresight: An Ideological Texture Analysis of Philadelphia and Revelation 3:7-13 by clicking here (link will download article in .pdf format).

In this article I analyze underlying ideologies in this passage and focus especially on the encouraging aspects of it. Many times we praise the “hard” leaders and think the encouraging ones are soft. I am not so sure we should, and encouragement is an important tool of any leader to motivate his/her followers. This passage teaches us much about this encouragement and my paper helps understand that a bit further. As always, if you have any feedback or comments, feel free to send those my way.


Article Published: Beginning at the End

Imagine this scenario. A revered CEO stands up in front of his eleven Vice Presidents and gives a riveting speech to them. He speaks articulately and succinctly while capturing every tidbit of their imaginations. He speaks with passion and gives them a mission to carry out in the future. Every word echoes around the room and reverberates in the heads of those listening. They take notes and compare their notes to make sure they scribed every word perfectly. He then walks out the door, leaves the building and is tragically killed while driving to a lunch meeting. His followers’ last memory of him is this riveting speech, and the eleven men in the room leave that day to devote the rest of their lives to living and carrying out the words that leader spoke. They promote their mission everywhere they go and expand their organization to become the longest lasting, fastest expanding, most controversial, most life changing organization in human history, complete with the most patriotic and dedicated employees the world has ever seen. They literally infiltrate every aspect of every segment of every world culture. And it starts with one, 61-word speech.
It seems like a far-fetched scenario in today’s world. We are so oversaturated with communication, preaching and advertisements, that the spoken word’s power is diluted. We like to analyze the phonetics of speech, without taking to heart the long-lasting meaning of words. Mission statements are bantered about, posted on beautiful and colorful plaques, and hidden away on the wall of the organization’s waiting room. Do they actually get taken to heart? How many people can quote their organization’s mission, let alone live it out? We know the power of words, but we rarely live out the power of those words.
The farewell discourse of Matthew 28 describes nearly this exact scenario. After Jesus is resurrected, He returned to His disciples for a few moments, talked to them, and then left shortly after. He summed up His entire ministry in a few actions and words and started the greatest and longest lasting revolution in human history. These 61 words form the mission statement of the early church:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-19, NRSV).

If you want to read more, check out my article that was recently published in the American Journal of Biblical Theology. Article can be downloaded by clicking here.

Tentmaking in 2011?

It is human nature judge others based on their actions. Words and actions simply cannot be separated. A corporate visitor that enters a foreign culture with a sense of entitlement will erode trust before he or she even has a chance to earn it. People will observe and note where the executives stay, where they eat, who they talk to, and how they treat others. If you watched the movie Inside Job, you will understand that perception is everything. Who didn’t feel angry when the cameras showcased the lavish perks of the infamous executives? A leader’s expectations and entitlement will eventually catch up to him.

Paul understood this, and he intentionally worked a trade while building one of the fastest growing organizational structures the world has ever seen. His tentmaking gave him additional opportunities to evangelize and build relationships with people his upper class status would have initially created barriers to. He also ensured that he differentiated himself from others by not “owing” any favours to those around him. As Socrates said, “Who among men is more free than I, who accepts neither gifts nor fee from anyone?” In Paul’s own words amidst his discussion of rights and tentmaking, “do we not have the right to our food and drink?” (1 Corinthians 9:3).

Paul experienced more issues than global leaders currently face (few modern corporate leaders have been beaten and left for dead multiple times). Paul knew his rights, and by forgoing them, was able to lead more people and gain more influence. If only more leaders would have been able to do this. Would the economic crisis of 2008 still have happened?

A perspective that gives up rights and focuses on intimate personal relationships will paradoxically position global leaders to lead amidst the complexity of the emerging global society.