Posted by: everynation | May 17, 2010

How To Have Lunch With A Leader

by Ross Middleton

So as I had mentioned a few day ago on the blog. I had the opportunity to go have lunch with Mark Dever a month or so ago. He pastors Capitol Hill Baptist Church and is the head honcho for 9 Marks Ministries whose aim is to help churches grow healthy.
Myself and Mark Dever are incredibly different when it comes to church philosophy and ecclesiology and a little less different when it comes to theology, but would still have our differences. So you may be asking, why would a guy like you want to go have lunch and pick the brain of a guy like Mark Dever? Well, I am glad you asked.
First, we are brothers in Christ, regardless of differences, he is my brother and I believe I can learn from him. Too often in the body of Christ, people disagree over one issue and it divides them so much so that they discount most everything the person says. If you think you have it all figured out theologically, you are deceived and chances are, a little arrogant. That sounds harsh, but I believe its true.
Secondly, he has been in ministry for so many years and has a lot more experience than I do, he is a student of the Bible and I have a lot of respect for him and his study of the word of God. Those are two major reasons.
We go out to lunch and I just came with a list of questions I had written down previously. I had read one of his books in preparation for our lunch. I asked him everything from navigating his personal life and the pressures of ministry, to things he had wished he had known when he was my age. I asked him some questions about his Bible study habits and lots of church related questions. We had a nice lunch, I gleaned some wisdom, he generously gave me a few books and then I walked back to NCC.
Looking back on our lunch, here are a few things I have learned over the years. If you are going to spend time with a leader, don’t waste their time, come with questions and come with a notebook and a pen. Do your homework. Read a book by them if they have written, or go read their blog. If they are gracious enough to give you some of their time, take advantage of it. I actually keep a list of questions on my phone if by any chance I run into someone in an airport or on the road I would like to learn from. You may think I am weird or obsessive, I just like to steward every opportunity God may be giving me.
Don’t go to pick a fight, that’s so lame. Don’t go to change someone else’s mind. When he said something at lunch I may have disagreed with, I didn’t argue with him, I just nodded, wrote some notes and tried to see if God wanted to change a paradigm I had. I did ask him some questions that one of his books raised in my mind. I asked him some harder questions about things I disagreed with him. Not in an antagonistic, I am a tool kind of way, but honestly. Asking, what does he see in scripture that I may be missing? Its all about the way you ask questions. If the spirit behind is is arrogant, you can sniff it out in a heartbeat. Ask with a spirit that is humble and wants to learn.
Lastly, I would challenge you to go and glean from people who are on the same page theologically and philosophically and intentionally read and interview those who are different than you. See what you can learn from that person.
I think we can miss what God may want to speak to us because we are closed minded by people who are different than us. Be open. Just because you may think they are wrong doesn’t mean that God cannot use that person to challenge you in a  certain area or minister to you. Be humble enough to receive from people you think are wrong.
Don’t miss God’s blessing because you are to right to be blessed.

Ross Middleton is an Every Nation campus director in Florida State University, Tallahassee and is the author of  Collide Leadership.

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