Three Aspects of 21st Century Leadership

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As usual, another brilliantly thought out contribution by Alex McManus on the future of the Church and leadership.

Welcome Back

Leadership in the 21st century has three aspects:

  1. Fearlessly DEFINING Reality
  2. Mindfully DISCERNING the Meaning in the Mix
  3. Creatively DISCOVERING New Paths Forward

In my new book, Makers of Fire, I layer this TRIAD of defining, discerning, and discovering on two others. The triangle of combustion and the triangle of social change.



FUEL            |       OXYGEN        |    HEAT                    = FIRE


Leaders have to stare reality in the eye. What’s out there? What’s really happening? If I had to give a one line description of reality I would say that we live in a time of “redefinition.”


“If I had to…

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The Case for “Primal Purpose”

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Some people are so hungry, that the only way they’ll see Jesus is in a loaf of bread offered in love.

 The above quote is my paraphrase of the famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi which, more accurately stated says:

 “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”

– Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

 Apparently, the Scriptures also bear witness to the truth of Gandhi’s statement:

 “My brothers and sisters, if people say they have faith, but do nothing, their faith is worth nothing. Can faith like that save them? A brother or sister in Christ might need clothes or food. If you say to that person, “God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat,” but you do not give what that person needs, your words are worth nothing. In the same way, faith that is alone—that does nothing—is dead.” ~ James 2: 14 -17

So, how does adopting a neighborhood, developing and providing opportunities for kids to get a college education, creating a sense of value and worth in a community, help introduce Jesus into the lives of the people He died for?

“When Jesus says, “Come to me,” He doesn’t say come to religion, come to a system, or come to a certain doctrine. This is a very personal invitation to a God, an invitation to a Savior.

In essence, Christianity is nothing more, nothing less than a desire and an effort to see Jesus. That’s all it is. We’re trying to catch a glimpse of a man, not a program, not a plan, not a system, not a doctrine. We’re trying to see a man who called Himself the Son of God.

Our God is not aloof—He’s not so far above us that He can’t see and understand our problems. Jesus isn’t a God who stayed on the mountaintop—He’s a Savior who came down and lived and worked with the people. Everywhere He went, the crowds followed, drawn together by the magnet that was—and is—the Savior.

The life of Jesus Christ is a message of hope, a message of mercy, a message of life in a dark world.”

~ Max Lucado

 It is this very idea that informs the vision and passion for Primal Purpose. Our desire to transform a community from the inside out is borne out by a very real Jesus walking, living, and loving among the people that He paid such a high price for. We recognize the fact that people will only listen to what we have to say if they believe that we truly care about them and their needs. Jesus met people right where they were. He didn’t try to change them before accepting them. The idea of allowing a person to belong before they believe is quite a departure from the traditional approach to outreach and evangelism, but we are persuaded that it really models the Biblical example set by Jesus.

We are under no illusions about the magnitude of the task ahead of us. We are certain that it will be hard and we also know that we will have our share of critics suggesting that we are “watering down the message” in order to be seeker sensitive. Our response is simply that we are glad to be in the company of Jesus in being sensitive to those that are seeking truth. We also recognize that any one who chooses to pioneer anything at all, will face his fare share of critics especially because he’s charting previously uncharted territory. I can only wonder at what organized religion must have thought of Martin Luther when he nailed his 95-Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church disputing the “Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” and suggesting instead that we are saved by grace and not by works.

Primal Purpose Project Abstract:

Primal Purpose is targeting students from areas of Seminole county with the highest preponderance of poverty, unemployment, crime, drug use, and acts of violence. The target population is also among the lowest academic performing area of Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS), which has a total enrolment of 64,401 students, 34% of whom qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch district-wide with an average of 59% qualifying specifically in the schools which serve these at-risk students. These students live in areas of economic deprivation and with families where school and academics are often not prioritized, thus holding the potential to perpetuate low academic performance for generations to come.

 Primal Purpose will provide opportunities for students and their families from a total of nine schools including four elementary schools: Bentley, Goldsboro, Idyllwilde, and Wicklow elementary schools; three middle schools: Millennium, Sanford, and Markham Woods middle schools; and two high schools: Seminole, and Lake Mary high schools. In addition to the following bulleted objectives, the project has embraced a series of ambitious goals and objectives: improved academic performance in reading, math, and science; improved school attendance, increased commitment to developing healthy life styles; improved social behavior, and increased parental involvement in their children’s activities. This is accomplished through partnering with area government agencies, community and faith-based organizations, and the skilled and experienced team of Primal Purpose.

  • Primal Purpose will provide on site athletic training for students in speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness (SPARQ), which is a standardized testing format for high school athletes seeking to compete at the collegiate level.
  •  Primal Purpose will provide opportunities for academic enrichment, including providing tutorial services to help students to meet state and local student performance standards in core academic subjects.
  •  Primal Purpose will provide on site tutoring to assist students in achieving and maintaining the required GPA in order to secure a college athletic scholarship in the event that they are able to earn one.
  •  Primal Purpose will provide on site life coaching and value based instruction which is designed to equip the students to learn how to cope effectively with the vicissitudes of life.
  •  Primal Purpose will offer families of students served by the center expanded opportunities for literacy and related educational development.
  •  Primal Purpose will engage the students in community service by working together to provide general neighborhood upkeep (in the adopted neighborhood of Goldsboro in Sanford, FL). This service will include but is not limited to, exterior home painting, lawn care, sweeping and cleaning of the exterior of homes and yards.
  •  Primal Purpose will transport students to various college athletic camps that afford them the opportunity to compete for a scholarship.
  •  Primal Purpose will transport students to both the Nike and Under Armor Combines, where students undergo SPARQ testing to establish a benchmark for their athletic skills, which college coaches use as a factor in determining a student’s athletic ability.
  •  Primal Purpose will host sports camps which provide an opportunity for neighborhood kids to begin to develop their skills from an early age in order to prepare them for high school and potentially college athletics. The ultimate goal is to provide an opportunity for kids from under privileged neighborhoods to get a college education using their athletic skills to earn athletic scholarships.
  •  Primal Purpose will hold award ceremonies for students that have successfully completed the program as well as give out special awards to students who have successfully earned a college athletic scholarship as a result of attending the program.
  •  Primal Purpose will continue to solicit funding through grants, individual sponsorship, corporate sponsorship, and other means by which we can fund the program so that we can continue to provide the service at no cost to the students other than their commitment to serve in our community service programs.
  •  Primal Purpose will locate its facilities in a central and easily accessible area of West Sanford, FL, an area of the county that has been identified as high crime, high poverty, and high risk for students to drop out of school. This project offers a safe haven to students and families as well as provides opportunities for on-going learning and athletic development to bolster their opportunities to earn college scholarships.