Kenneson describes the character of faithfulness as rooted in the very character of God. Reliability, steadfastness, constancy, fidelity, dependability, trustworthiness are all words describing the character of God’s faithfulness and must be the character of leaders demonstrated toward others.
Because of the increasing instability of our culture, we find several obstacles to faithfulness.
Nurturing the temporal and disposable elements of life challenge a lasting faithfulness. Shunning commitments and learning the proper objects of our loyalty are also obstacles to our faithfulness as leaders.
However, we cultivate faithfulness in the following ways:
Celebrating God’s abiding presence. When we lift up our God in worship it serves as a reminder of His faithfulness to us.
Making and keeping promises demonstrates to others the example we follow in the faithfulness of God.
Telling the truth also strengthens the confidence of others in our faithfulness in all areas.
Kenneson raises several powerful questions and provides suggestions to the “others-directed” nature of faithfulness worth the time to read (194-195).
Kenneson’s approach to goodness involves a fruit that is cultivated in the midst of a self-help culture. Three significant thoughts introduce the idea of goodness in this chapter.
One, the consistent testimony of God’s word is that God alone is unequivocally good. Jesus indicates this in his discussion with the rich young ruler (Mk. 10:18).
Two, if human bondage to sin makes us incapable of goodness apart from God, we are nevertheless created with the capacity and potential for goodness, stemming from our being created in His image.
Three, if God alone is good and humans are capable of good only through Him, then knowing what counts for good can also only be determined under the guidance of God’s Spirit.
In the midst of the obstacles to goodness, several avenues of cultivating goodness are noteworthy.
Learning to name our sin, attending to God’s word, and imitating the saints are three ways the cultivation of goodness encourages a greater “others-directed” approach to leadership.
When leaders are characterized by goodness, a self-awareness, an upward attention, and an outward activity describe the cultivation of this fruit.
The fruit of the Spirit, kindness, applies in every area of the Christian life. However, instead of the normal way the posts have discussed the fruit of the Spirit, I want to share another key section of Kenneson’s book involving application.
Kenneson approaches the application of demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in every chapter. The following is a perspective of how he applies kindness.
He begins by asking a question in relationship to our life’s story: How important are others to that story? The direction of his application leads to the interdependence of relationships as Christians.
Reflecting on the relationships most cherished and admired, in what ways are they characterized by interdependence?
A Christian’s life is intricately woven into the lives of many other people. How different would our approach to kindness be if our livelihood was dependent on others and their livelihood dependent on us?
Listening and interacting with one another is crucial to demonstrating kindness. If Christians were demonstrating kindness in a culture that is characterized by self-sufficiency, imagine how different the world might look.
Patience is often claimed to be a desired virtue, but one we fail to demonstrate. How can patience be cultivated in a society that is geared toward productivity.
The clock becomes a slave driver and the loss of control challenges our level of patience.
Kenneson claims that patience, or being a patient, have the common thread of yielding control to another (109).
Biblical patience has an object, not patience for the purpose of patience, but for the sake of another.
The obstacles to patience include several areas: segmenting, regulating, and hoarding time, as well as, exalting productivity, and the desire for speed. In a culture driven by such areas our patience is tested to its full strength.
Patience can be cultivated by remembering our relationship with God, including God’s patience with us in those times we were stumbling through life trying to determine our place in God’s redemptive story.
We also cultivate patience by thinking of time differently––as a gift instead of commodity.
Demonstrating patience helps support the strength of leadership as others are led to see the working of God through Christ for their lives.
While peace is often associated with the cessation or absence of conflict, there is a positive connotation to peace, a wholeness.
The Hebrew word shalom and the Greek word eirênê both carry the idea of wholeness and harmony that characterizes a way of life.
Kenneson discusses several obstacles that stand in the way of this kind of biblical peace.
Individualism, and the promotion of such individualism, strikes at the heart of achieving biblical peace.
The privatization of faith takes individualism even further, as many often speak of a “personal relationship with Jesus,” meaning one’s own private relationship. Perhaps this explains why so many “self-professed Christians believe they can be perfectly good Christians apart from the church (92).
Compartmentalizing life, defending our rights, and sanctioning violence are only a few of the ways peace is attacked.
Incorporating baptism, edifying one another, admonishing one another, and forgiving one another are a few ways to support biblical peace.
When peace becomes a way of life there will be the kind of harmony and wholeness that can only be the result of a relationship with God and one another.
The characteristic of joy exceeds simple pleasure. Kenneson points out that joy is a byproduct of the desire for something more outward.
The “other-directedness,” outward movement, of joy may very well be why it is so closely connected to love. If love be related to God’s grace, the gift exemplifies a significance between the two Greek words with the same root: charis (grace) and chara (joy).
As amazing as it sounds, scripture connects suffering with joy; “living joyfully despite persecution and affliction does not require one to deny the reality of suffering or pain” (63).
The world presents the greatest obstacles concerning joy. English poet Lord Byron said, “There’s not a joy the world can give like that it takes away.” The craving for more and cultural dispositions of anxiety and fear are fed by an advertising industry promoting both.
Cultivating joy occurs when we are able to rejoice in the opportunity to worship God, nurturing contentment, and learning to enjoy children.
There is more and I encourage you to get Kenneson’s book and read the depths to this fruit of the Spirit.
Cultivating love in an unbelievable environment of marketing is one of the great challenges to the Christian life and leadership.
Considering the loose way love is used is borderline blasphemous. Kenneson makes a pointed remark; “…some may justifiably doubt whether a word that can be applied with ease to both God and pizza can illuminate the character of the Christian life” (37). This statement challenges our thinking.
The character of love, as defined by God, is a love that is unmerited, steadfast, suffering, and knows no bounds. It should move us to consider there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, and nothing we can do to make Him love us less. His very essence is love.
We cannot examine the love of God without recognizing the “other-directedness” nature. Love is always divinely defined by what is done for others, in this case, you and me.
In a marketing environment that is based on self-interest and one that puts a price on everything (and everyone), cultivating love will require a devotion of our time in building relationships.
This builds leadership.