Posts Tagged ‘dai’

Who Is A Leader?

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Note to the reader: This blog post first appeared on the Frontiers blog. Karl Mueller of DAI has been writing a series of articles for Frontiers on the topic of leadership. To read other blogs in his series, click the hyper-links throughout this post. 

How many times have you heard someone say “What we need are real leaders?” You’ve probably also heard sports commentators say “This player not only has tremendous athletic skills, he also provides great leadership.” It is often easy to sense a lack of leadership in a situation. At the same time, it becomes relatively easy to recognize real leaders when we see them. Yet, when we are asked to define “leadership” we often struggle. In many ways it seems that leadership is an intangible quality that we can sense, but can’t easily define.

Any conversation around leaders and leadership has to start with a good definition. Dr. J. Robert Clinton, the author of The Making of a Leader defines a leader as “a man or woman with a God-given capacity who influences a specific group of people towards His purposes for the group.”

This definition isolates the key aspects of leadership in the Christian context. It is these aspects that I’ll be focusing on in upcoming blogs. God-given capacity refers to the natural abilities, acquired skills and spiritual gifts that God has invested in each of us. Influence is at the heart of leadership. A specific group of people refers to followers – after all, you aren’t a leader if you don’t have followers. His purposes for the group implies that as a group, you have been called by God to accomplish something for the Kingdom.

Join me in the coming weeks as I embark on a journey of exploring Kingdom leaders and the principles of leadership.


Karl Mueller (2) - Copy (270x270)Author: Karl, DAI Senior Consultant for Church and Leadership Services, strengthens international partnerships between ministries around the world and churches in the USA. He joined DAI in 2014 and brings with him 35 years of ministry experience. Karl serves on the boards of African Leadership And Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM) and Community Health Evangelism (CHE).

3 Tips to Build Young Professionals

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

3 Tips to Build Young ProfessionalsOver the last seven years we helped hundreds of young leaders in South Asia make a kingdom impact in their context. Our goal is to train young people as servant leaders while encouraging their enthusiasm and energy. Although there is a lot to say as to the best approaches to bless and nurture young leaders three stick out for us:

1)  Encourage More Than You Critique:

Most young people know when they have made mistakes so they don’t need help identifying the error. Rather they need help picking up the pieces and restarting with a clear mind.

God often uses seemingly bizarre ideas to fulfill His purposes. One young man we have been working with had a big vision to buy a plot of land and start a café to reach out to students right in front of the biggest university in Delhi, India. Many thought the idea was ridiculous and economically unrealistic, yet he sought out funding for his vision for five years. Low and behold, through much encouragement, he received the investment he needed (in the millions) and is opening the café soon!

2)  Enable Forgiveness and Move On:

Forgiveness is an issue we keep coming back to in our trainings. The devil loves when we have sludge of past relationships still present in our hearts. Jesus’ command for us to ‘love and pray for our enemies’ seems to be the key to finding breakthrough. When we pray earnestly for those who have hurt us, something awesome happens in the spiritual world. Praying with younger leaders for those who have offended them in the past and present helps them take less offense in the future.

3)  Create Working Groups:

Young people need each other to bounce ideas and enthusiasm around. Giving the younger generation ownership and projects in groups is a good way to help them practice servant leadership in a relatively safe environment. For example, trainings we conduct in Nepal are planned, organized and carried out by a core group of young leaders who take ownership of the trainings. We’ve found that the more ownership you give, especially in small groups, the more young leaders come on board with the vision.

We are currently in the American football season where we witness the excitement of team play. Like football, being able to work together towards a project goal is always more motivating than going at it alone. All achievement is then shared collectively. Such fraternity brings joy to the soul. Imagine if everybody was just as excited about achievement as they are when football players scored a touchdown. What a team that would be!

Author: Jonathan Abraham, is the South Asia Initiative Coordinator for Development Associates International (DAI). He and his family live in India while engaging young leaders in South Asia on issues pertinent to their generation through forums, workshops, awareness campaigns and media.

Pouring Into the Next Generation To…

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Mountain TransMove Mountains Through Mentoring in Belgium

Tanja was overwhelmed by ministry work; demands had become a barrier in her life, like a mountain range one could not see beyond. With mentoring and insight from DAI-Belgium staff, Tanja developed a plan to resolve her challenges at work and to see new possibilities. She shares that these mentoring efforts helped her see beyond the mountains and now she feels she is able to even move mountains with the wise counsel of the DAI-Belgium staff. Sometimes an outside perspective is needed to bring hope and a way forward to
overcome an overwhelming situation.

Door TransOpen Doors in the Middle East

A young man from an Orthodox Church attended our emerging leader workshop. He shared with us that he replicated the seminar at his church and taught on Servant Leadership and Strategic Thinking principles. The Orthodox pastors were impressed and asked him about the source of his teaching. Because of this young leader DAI now has a good reputation and an open door to the Orthodox Church.

Flag TransGo Far and Finish Strong in Nigeria

Victor shares about his mentor Reuben Ezemadu, DAI-Nigeria Ministry Center Director, “I remember the program my wife and I attended some years past in which you were a speaker. Since that time, I desired that the Lord bring us much closer so we can tap from your reservoir of knowledge and experience in missions…There is a paucity of genuine servant leaders in the Church and when you find one, you do not need to be told. We believe that with people like you around, the Lord will help us learn so that we can go far and finish strong.”

Bamboo Succession Planning

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Bamboo Succession Planning for blogWhat does bamboo have to do with succession planning? Please let me explain. As many of us know, ‘big boss’ leadership has a damaging impact on churches, ministries and NGOs around the world. Big boss or top-down leadership, as the names indicate, is the opposite of Jesus’ style of servant leadership which releases the potential in others, appropriately enables them to make decisions, and even mistakes, while learning from each one.

The wonderful by-product of servant leadership is that succession planning rarely concern servant leaders, because they consistently ensure everyone under their leadership grows, which results in an abundant crop of talented leaders developing within the organization at any given time.

Servant leaders make it habit to see every employee or volunteer as a future leader. They take the time to get to know as many of them as possible, inquiring about their interests and encouraging their growth.

They believe that developing people within the organization is just as important as accomplishing mission. It is developing people while accomplishing mission that equals true organizational success. Servant leaders put policies in place to enable continuing education and designate resources to staff development, even when resources are painfully scarce.

Young, talented leaders pose no threat to a servant leader as their success multiplies because that is what the leader sincerely desires to see happen. And the younger leaders have little need to leave the organization to pursue their dreams, because they are given room inside to do just that.

This is where bamboo comes to mind. Can you picture in your mind how bamboo grows? Lots of tall, straight, strong stalks grow up side-by-side, not crowding each other out, but giving each its own needed space, sunlight and nutrients. The contrasting picture is of a banyan tree with one large expansive center trunk, large and bushy at the top, but with nothing else able to thrive under its dark shade.

Which does your organization look more like, bamboo or banyan? In the bamboo-style organization, there will always be lots of talented people ready to take on leadership responsibility. Be intentional about creating growth opportunities for those serving with you and one of the rewards will be no fear about succession planning. When it is time to pass on leadership there will be a whole batch of tall, strong and well-nourished people ready to take on the task.

Jane Overstreet, President/CEO

Prior to joining DAI in 1996, Jane served as the Director of Legal Services for Youth With A Mission International while living in the Middle East and Europe. She has a Juris Doctorate and a member of the Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Colorado Bar Associations. Jane did additional graduate coursework in International Law and Global Economic Development.

She serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations and on the stewardship committee of her local church, Covenant Presbyterian. Jane is also a member of the Lausanne Leadership Development Working Group and author of Unleader.

World Cup Influence

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

new-soccer-ballThe World Cup fever is everywhere. Even my 9-year-old daughter woke up at 4:00 AM to watch the Brazil vs Germany game. You may ask why a 9-year-old girl is so passionate about the soccer game. The reason is simple, she is influenced by different environments. First her parents have been talking and watching the games all the time and second the advertisement related to The World Cup is everywhere.

This story reminds me of DAI who wants to see more leaders equipped with integrity and skills, so they can influence and transform their community wherever they are in this rapidly changing world.

As a leader, are you influencing the world with your Christ-centered life in different fields and different ways?

Author: written by a DAI staff member in Asia and asked to remain anonymous.

Return on Investment

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

For the past 10 years, DAI has invested in leaders’ lives and ministries through the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL). Our products are Christian leaders serving and empowering those around them to thrive.

God has nurtured an amazing return on investment through our courses. As part of the Teaching and Learning for Impact course, each MAOL student facilitates an interactive workshop on servant leadership for at least 10 other leaders. Through the 1,600 students who took this course, DAI reached an additional 16,000 leaders with biblical servant leadership principles and practices. Some of those 16,000 individuals enrolled in a DAI workshop series or MAOL program. Others shared the material and DAI with key leaders they know. This, in turn, opened doors for DAI to develop and nurture the leadership of a new organizational partner or Christian leaders in countries that DAI has not yet worked in.

The time spent investing in each of the 1,600 past and present students is worth it! Thank you for prayerfully and financially investing in the students and in this program. Read on as students share the ROI the MOAL had on their life and ministry.

Aggrey M.Uganda
Supervisor, Ugandan Revenue Authority & Associate Pastor, True Acts of Christ Church

MasterLink2014.5 (1) (174x200)“The general perception about leadership, in this country, is one of authority, control and privileges. Because I wanted to see Christ’s model of leadership in my team, I created an atmosphere in which servant leadership will thrive by setting an example. The MAOL course came in very handy to provide this atmosphere. There has been tremendous improvement in working relationships with my team. One person confessed to me, ‘I never had the opportunity to be nurtured the way I am being nurtured now. For all the years of my Christian life, I have moved to a number of churches under different leaders, but did not get the help to grow into who I was called to be like I am getting by being mentored by you.’”

Jacqueline O.Uganda
Independent Consultant for Leadership & Tax

MasterLink2014.05(2) (172x200)“I joined MAOL just after I had retired from the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) where I worked for 8 years in a senior management position. I have a passion for leadership and would like to see working people transforming their workplaces through servant leadership. I had the opportunity to develop teaching materials for the URA senior management team. I developed the teaching materials using the same method DAI uses of allowing the learner to reflect on what they are learning by answering some personal reflection questions. The materials have been created with the focus on discussions and learning from one another. I got feedback from the participants and they are so excited about the program and wonder why it didn’t start earlier!”

Prosper I.Nigeria
President/CEO, Threshold Christian Network

MasterLink2014.04(3) (176x200)“I have the privilege of providing leadership for the discipleship school which nurtures young Christian converts to maturity. Through DAI we have adopted interactive learning as our teaching style and retrained all our facilitators to use interactive learning. The effect of this on students and facilitators is amazing. Our focus now is transformation and not certification or the number of students graduated in a year. Students are now testifying daily to the benefit of what they are learning and the ease to which they can now integrate into church life.”

Wycliffe B.Uganda
Chief Administrative Officer, Forum for Democratic Change

MasterLink2014.05(4) (187x200)“I have for the last six years been the Secretariat of a national political party in Uganda. Over a year ago, I resigned my position to work for the Forum for Democratic Change. I used the MAOL to help the technical staff of the Forum and the national leadership of the same party I resigned from to identify their dominant leadership traits and develop ‘Party Cohesion.’ In all these, the change that has happened impacted me and I am confident it impacted others that have come to attend sessions that I have facilitated. My pride used to be in how much material and facts I poured out to the participants. Not so anymore! This time I focused on the participants, not me, because they had put aside their commitments to come to learn.”

Reconciling After War

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

The Sri Lanka 2011 cohort just finished their very last classes in the DAI Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership one of which was Culture, Ethnicity & Diversity, written and taught by Paul Borthwick, DAI Senior Consultant. What an honest and timely topic for this cohort!

May 18 marked the 5th anniversary of the end of the 26-year civil war between the Buddhist Sinhala majority and Hindu Tamil minority, which took the lives of 100 thousand , displaced half a million and forced 900 thousand to emigrate (mostly Tamils).

“After more than two decades of civil war, Sri Lanka is building a new future, and the Christian church is an active part of that future.” Paul Borthwick shares about the 2011 cohort, “I was excited to be part of the Sri Lankan cohort because the leadership represented a broad cross-section of all the streams of Sri Lankan society. The cohort includes all the majority ethnic groups of Sri Lanka including Christians who converted from Hindu and Buddhist backgrounds; this diversity is a critical factor in the process of reconciliation. It also includes a denominational diversity of pastors, senior staff from mercy ministries like World Vision and Compassion, and leaders in the National Churches Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka; the fact that these leaders study and grow together will serve as a catalyst for greater Christian unity in the future. I believe these cohorts will together increase the impact of the Kingdom of Christ on this beautiful country.”

MasterLink2014.05(5) (181x200)Viraj A. reflects further on reconciliation and forgiveness in the Church.

One of the Sri Lanka 2011 cohort members, Viraj A. of World Vision, processed the ability to become a catalyst of forgiveness in his final paper. He says, “One of the most important things that crashed into my mind is forgiveness and reconciliation. How much do we need this in Sri Lanka, in our post war situation? Over more than 35 many years, hatred has been cultivated in the hearts of thousands of Tamils and Sinhalese. We hated each other, we belittled each other, we departed from each other and finally we killed each other. What is needed to embrace each other? Forgiveness. Without forgiveness there wouldn’t be true reconciliation.

I strongly believe that Christians have a great responsibility to establish a ground for reconciliation through forgiveness for those who are historically divided and culturally conditioned to hate each other.

The body of Christ as we know is made up of imperfect, broken people who have one thing in common; we have been forgiven by Christ (vertical reconciliation). Unfortunately not all of us are willing to forgive and though we try our best to serve Him, we are unable to experience the fullness of His abundant life, for this very reason; our unwillingness to forgive those who have hurt us.

“Forgiveness is a vital aspect of the Christian’s life and witness. Jesus repeatedly mentions the importance of forgiving others, irrespective of what the offense is or whether justice has been done (horizontal reconciliation). More importantly, He modeled it. Forgiveness sets us free to love and is therefore the key to true reconciliation. Many who have chosen to pursue reconciliation but ignore this principle discover later that the hurts, anger and bitterness still remain, unattended to, beneath the surface.”

20 Nations Gathered In Sri Lanka

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

world-map-watercolor-teal lines (400x283)Every 18 months DAI meets for a week of respite and reporting. Spring of this year brought us to that season. We chose Sri Lanka for our conference location. Seeing coworkers and hearing how God is moving in and through DAI’s leadership training ministry in each locality was a rich blessing and time of encouragement for each of the 80 DAI staff members from 20 nations.

Gathering in Sri Lanka gave us better insight into one of the newest partners, Lanka Bible College. We hosted MAOL students and their families for dinner one night to hear their stories.

Kerry* from the 2011 cohort shared how DAI impacted him. Before the MAOL his church was growing about, “20 people a year from 140 to 160 to 180. And I was pretty happy with that,” explained Kerry. The Strategic Thinking course taught by Dr. David Fraser, DAI Senior Consultant, pushed his idea of growth. It caused him to survey all that was before him and the potential encapsulated in it. He saw that his congregants were not thriving, Sunday school was not engaging and his church was not growing at the rate it was capable of. Kerry proudly announced, “at the end of 2013 we now have 275 congregants and Sunday school is exciting spiritual awareness and hunger!” Unfortunately, this growth and vibrancy attracted unwanted attention from militant groups. His family asks for prayer for protection as they recently received threats to their lives.


*Pseudonym since this pastor asked to not be identified online.

Leading the Family

Friday, May 16th, 2014
Leading the Family(800x600)

At the end of the session on encountering God in marriage and family, the participants renewed their marriage covenant by presenting each other with cards and flowers, jointly lighting a unity candle and reciting the covenant to one another.

“During the family seminar I felt God was tearing down the envelope of my life. I am married for three years. I used to preach to everyone but I never prayed or read word of God with my wife. I was neglecting that area. I want to ask for forgiveness from my wife. I now really understood the true meaning of headship. Yesterday, after family seminar, was first time we as a couple prayed together.”

This comment comes from a pastor participating in the Encounters with God workshop series facilitated by DAI in India. The highlight for the 28 participants was the section on encountering God in marriage and family.

At DAI we train over 15,000 leaders annually in the servant leadership principles found in the Bible. To lead in this way with integrity they have to be a servant in all facets of their life – at home and at work. Dr. Sam Thomas, helps Christian leaders integrate this teaching into all their leadership roles through the Encounters with God series.

“The scenario for this is that Christian families are falling apart,” explains Dr. Thomas. “A large percentage end up in divorce. But a larger number live together, but lost the joy and just coexist functionally. In this context, our emphasis is to bring the couple back to the biblical foundation and also encourage them to restore the romance of marriage and ‘Rejoice in the wife of your youth and be exhilarated always with her love’ (Proverbs 5:18b,19b). This is so significant for the Kingdom of God as family is a miniature form of the Kingdom.”

Dr. Thomas goes on to share, “Another major struggle that we see is that when people come to Christ, they carry the baggage of cultural world view with them and do not replace it with the biblical world view. This issue needs to be radically addressed by the Church. We have kept quiet for too long and it is time for the Church to be vocal about this. We would like to see men and women who would rise up and answer the call, to be faithful, first to our God and then to our spouses, to nurture their children and care for the family. This in turn will bring about His Kingdom way of living.”

Through the Encounters with God workshop, “Many participants were very blessed,” Dr. Thomas reports. “They now understand the concept of mutual submission and promised to apply the teaching to their lives. There was a spirit of brokenness and repentance. God brought healing and restored each of the families.” Here’s what another participant shared:

“I am married for 14 years. I used to keep myself busy in ministry. Whenever I used to come back from ministry trip, with excitement I used to share with my wife that 200-300 people came and God moved in  a powerful way, but she never used to enjoy. The reason was that I never used to give time to her and my child. I was covering everything with a nice word of ‘ministry’. But during this family seminar, God was breaking me. I want to say sorry to my wife in front of everyone. I will never sacrifice my family for the sake of ministry.” 

Please continue to remember these families in India in your prayers. Thank your for supporting the global leadership development ministry of DAI.

Not Fade Away

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Reposted from the Gathering. View the original article by Fed Smith here. Fred is a friend to Development Associates International (DAI) and his thoughts were too good for us to keep to ourselves.

640px-Shepherds,_Chambal,_MP,_IndiaI was 38 when I realized I was a misfit in my work. I was teaching in a traditional boarding school on the East Coast and working overtime to adapt – but unsuccessfully. It was no one’s fault. It was simply not the right place for me.

During that time I discovered a book by Ralph Mattson and Art Miller, Finding a Job You Can Love. Their writings changed my life because the authors (who then became friends) showed me that God had designed me in a particular way to accomplish a particular kind of work. I could try to shoehorn myself into a job but there would be very little satisfaction over time. What I needed was to find work that gave me more energy the longer I did it.

I became an evangelist for the good news about “giftedness” and have spent much of the last 30 years helping people find the design and fit that is right for them. I still believe it is true that there is nothing more satisfying than finding the work for which you feel you have been created. It’s then that we easily sense we are in the will of God for our lives.

However, there are exceptions and sometimes people are called by God to a work that is not a fit. It’s not punishment or intended to build character. It is not a test. It is being chosen to fulfill a purpose we cannot always understand.

I’ve thought about Peter, the fisherman, instructed by Jesus to “feed my lambs.” Instead of using the final miraculous catch of fish as a taste of what Peter would be doing for his life’s work, Jesus tells the fisherman to become a shepherd.

Fishermen and shepherds have nothing in common. Imagine Steve Jobs being told he would now be head of of Human Resources at Apple or Bill Gates being moved to the position of corporate chaplain. What Jesus tells Peter to do is this pronounced and jarring for his disposition.

Fishing is an exciting sport and something you do when and where you want and on your own schedule. Shepherding is definitely not. It is tedious work. Shepherds live with sheep. They sleep with them, and they smell like them.

And catching is not the same as caring. You never walk into a home and see a lamb mounted over the fireplace in place of a prize-winning blue marlin. No one takes a vacation to go shepherding.

In other words, Jesus takes all of Peter’s instincts and skills and, instead of anointing a natural talent, he assigns Peter a role that could not have been more unnatural. He calls Peter to give up what he would have likely preferred.

Many of you have wrestled with similar assignments – being faithful in vocations for which you had little affinity but knew it was important to stay. Perhaps you have accepted the responsibility of taking care of someone else – a parent, a child or a spouse. And over the years I have met men and women who set aside their own ambitions to guide a ministry or business through turmoil and change. It’s not volunteering.  It’s an assignment.

Yes, there are times that people should find work for which they are better suited, but there are also times when their calling may require them to sacrifice their  preferences.

While the world rewards trophy catches and personal accomplishments, these shepherds have chosen to tend invisibly. They have not merely resigned themselves or served out of a grudging sense of duty but have willingly and sacrificially aligned themselves with the interests of others. They, like Peter, have followed out of love for Jesus and not insisted on their own dreams, independence and work more fitting to their design.

I do not know why Jesus picked Peter to feed lambs instead of fish for men. I do not know why God places some people in difficult spots for years at a time instead of their being in work that is satisfying and natural to them. I do not know why He does not always use our affinities and skills in ways that make sense to us.

However, I do know this. At the end of Peter’s life he does not reminisce about fishing. He says nothing about what he could have been or what he would have done had he chosen his own way to serve.

Instead, he writes about what he has come to know so well – our being shepherds of God’s flock in our care, “watching over them – not because you must but because you are willing, as God wants you to be.”

He is no longer the impetuous fisherman but the patient shepherd Jesus assigned him to be. No regrets. No remorse.

Was his life different from what he might have planned? More than likely. Do I understand why God would ask someone as unlikely as Peter to be a shepherd? No, but I do believe it turned out the way Jesus intended. Peter laid down his life, his plans, and his affinities for his friends and, perhaps, that is the “rock” that is the foundation of the Church. That is Peter’s glory that will not erode or fade away.

Fred Smith is a graduate of Denver University and Harvard Divinity School. He spent several years as teacher and administrator at Charlotte Christian School and The Stony Brook School before joining Leadership Network, where he served as President for 12 years. Fred is the President of The Gathering, an international association of individuals, families and foundations giving to Christian ministries. As well, Fred is the Chairman of The Fourth Partner, a non-profit organization focused on Christian philanthropy and community development within the East Texas area. Fred and his wife, Carol, reside in Tyler, Texas and have two grown daughters. one son-in-law and two grandsons.