Posts By Dr. Corné Bekker

12 Aug 2013 Dr. CornéBekker

Making Sense of the Seasons of Life

No Comments Building Christian Leaders

Regent University - CampusAre there discernible seasons in the life of a spiritual community? We all experience differing stages of growth in our own lives and witness the changing seasons of nature. Can we in similar ways trace stages or eras over the life span of a community of faith?

The history of God’s Church clearly shows that there are seasons in the life of both the global and local church. History testifies of times of renewal and revival where the Spirit of God drew groups of people to the Gospel. These renewals have served to counter the sin-filled entropy of the current age and secured an increase in experiential holiness and devotion to Christ. Read more

22 May 2013 Dr. CornéBekker

Ten Reasons Why Christian Leaders Should Study Church History

No Comments Building Christian Leaders, Pillars of Knowledge

Regent University - ChapelChurch History is not often on most Christians’ list of favorite topics. As I travel the world, I remain surprised by Christian leaders’ vocal disinterest and sometimes even avid aversion to explore the history of God’s involvement in and through His Church. So why should we study it? Here are ten reasons why the study of Church History remains important for the development and growth of authentic and Biblical Christianity and leadership. Read more

19 Apr 2013 Dr. CornéBekker

Loose Lips Sink Ships

2 Comments Building Christian Leaders

Regent University - boatsLoose lips sink ships. This old saying that warns about the destructive power of uncontrolled words remains true in our day. This warning is of particular worth to leaders. We are inundated with news stories of leaders in all spheres in society that have reacted too quickly, shared too much, spoke too harshly, and in doing so, did great harm to themselves and their organizations. How should leaders control their tongues? Christian leaders from all generations counsel us that the discipline of silence is pivotal in the quest to tame our loose lips. Read more

25 Jan 2013 Dr. CornéBekker

Gluttons for Power

No Comments Building Christian Leaders, Foundation of Excellence

Regent University - libraryWhy do we desire to lead? Hint: it is not always because we are humble or want to change the world. Sometimes our desires for fame, fortunate and power drive our aspirations for leadership. I would maintain that authentic Biblical leadership starts with an examination of the “passions” and desires that underlie our desire to lead.

Evagrius Ponticus (349–399 AD), a monastic theologian in Egypt, is believed to be the first writer to record and systematize certain teachings of the predominately illiterate Desert Fathers. A prominent feature of his research was a list of eight evil “passions” (desires). While he did not create the list from scratch, he is credited with refining and developing it. His list of “passions” included, in order of increasing seriousness: Read more

18 Jan 2013 Dr. CornéBekker

Pride as Madness

1 Comment Building Christian Leaders

Regent University - students studyBaruch Spinoza, a 17th century Jewish/Dutch philosopher (1632-1677 A.D.), described pride as a form of madness: “Thus we see that it may readily happen, that a man may easily think too highly of himself, or a loved object, and, contrariwise, too meanly of a hated object. This feeling is called ‘pride,’ in reference to the man who thinks too highly of himself, and it is a species of madness.” The English author, C. S. Lewis (1898-1963 A.D.) described pride as the “complete anti-God state of mind…the great sin.”

The problem of pride in leadership is that it provides leaders with a completely false sense of themselves. They find their identity in their talents, expertise, accomplishments and possessions. The only cure for this kind of prevalent leadership madness is a clearer vision of God in which we find our own true self, created and sustained in Him. Read more

08 Oct 2012 Dr. CornéBekker

Study as Worship?

No Comments Foundation of Excellence

Regent University studyWe live in a generation that considers labor as a necessary evil, simply as a means to an end, and ultimately only as an avenue to secure wealth and provisions for the “real life” that occurs outside of our work time. The British playwright, Oscar Wilde, holding this worldly view famously declared that “work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do.” The Christian university is not immune to this worldly attitude. Our labor of studying, learning, writing, administrating and grading can often be seen as burdensome, “paying our dues” or just terribly hard and undesirable work.

But the wisdom coming from the wealth of Christian thought on the nature of work speaks of another reality: The ancient and Biblical truth that work can be a way to imitate God, an activity that can bring healing to the soul and an avenue to worship  the one true God. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word used for work (avodah) could be translated as meaning both to worship and to labor. In Biblical terms, work and worship are connected. Jesus declared the holiness of work when He declared: “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (James 5:17, NIV).

The Desert Fathers and Mothers in the fourth and fifth centuries of the Christian era understood something of this healing nature of God-given work. It is said in the Philokalia (the collection of writings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, literally called “The Beautiful Writings”) that one of the Fathers, called Abba Paul proved that without working with his hands, a monk cannot endure to abide in his place, nor can he climb any nearer the summit of holiness.” For the early church, work was seen not only as worship but also as part of God’s process of sanctification. This wholesome perspective on work finally gave place to Benedict of Nursia’s (480-547 AD) monastic maxim of “Ora et Labora” (prayer and work) that reminds all of us that the two activities of work and worship indeed operate together and are complimentary dimensions of a “whole and holy life.” The Medieval Church Theologian, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 AD) would later agree: “There can be no joy in living without joy in work.”

It is clear that work and worship are intimately connected in the foundations of a Judeo-Christian worldview. One of the great recoveries of the Protestant Reformation under the leadership of Martin Luther (1483-1546 AD) and John Calvin (1509-1564 AD) was an affirmation of the dignity of all honest occupations and manual labor as vocations (literally callings to worship God). How do we recover a redemptive and Biblical theology of work in a world that has a broken view of work?

I have been reconsidering Thérèse de Lisieux’s (1873-1897 AD) theology of doing the smallest of things with great love and devotion unto God, as a possible foundational construct in a renewed theology of “redemptive work.” It strikes me that the beginning of this exploration must start with the ultimate purpose of all our action in this world: love. The twentieth century American monk and author, Thomas Merton (1915-1968 AD), describes this Biblical approach as follows: “We do not exist for ourselves alone, and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others. What do I mean ‘loving ourselves properly’? I mean, first of all, desiring to live, accepting life as a very great gift and a great good, not because of what it gives us, but because of what it enables us to give to others.”

How will our perception and practice of work change when our first and ultimate motive is love? What would our leadership look like if love was the first and last reason to lead? But maybe a more important question should be asked – what if that motivating love in work was defined as our love for God? The Apostle Paul writes: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17, NIV). If we did our work not only in the Name of God but also for the love of God (and the love of our neighbor), then maybe we could transform our work into the pure worship of the Only True God. The work would recover its original purpose of glorifying God, healing our souls and serving all of mankind. Maybe then, even study can be seen as pure and undefiled worship of our almighty God.

06 Jun 2012 Dr. CornéBekker

Preparing Tomorrow’s Leader Today

No Comments Building Christian Leaders

A previous general secretary of the United Nations once declared that the greatest challenge to face Africa is one of leadership. He maintained that the greatest crisis in Africa is not one of poverty, disease or corruption – but one of leadership. One might argue that this is true not only of the larger continent of Africa but also of the rest of the world. The daily headlines of every news media outlets echo this worldwide, desperate need for authentic and transformational leadership. But where do we start?

Regent Adult EduThe answer lies in preparing tomorrow’s leaders today. How do we do this in an increasingly spiritually corrupt world? Christian thinkers going back to the Apostle Paul have described human history as involving a struggle between two opposing spiritual forces. The African Church leader, Augustine of Hippo, writing in the 5th century, describes these two opposing forces as the City of God and the City of the World: the Civitas Dei and the Civitas Mundi. The City of God is dedicated to serving others and to God’s will and to His glory. The City of the World is dedicated to the pursuit of worldly ideals – commercial systems of rampant and competitive self-seeking, cities of debilitating selfishness. Most of us feel this spiritual tension in our interactions in our world: to which city or world system will we belong?

Christians globally are faced with this sacred challenge: Training authentic Christian and Biblical leaders that could change the world. How do we do this? How do we ensure that we do not follow the road of shallow worldliness taken by so many leaders that have come before us? How do we balance the Gospel call to humility and holiness with the desperate need for firm and clear leadership?

As Christians we do not walk blindly. Albert Schweitzer once made the point that, “example is leadership.” We have a wealth of deeply spiritual and authentic Christian leaders that have walked this difficult road before us, the ultimate being our Lord and Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippian church (2:5-11) faced similar cultural values of pride and abuse of power and in response to this used the example of Jesus in an early hymn as the perfect model for how Christians should behave as leaders. This beautiful confession of faith and early worship song of the church reads as follows:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)

Note how this hymn in Philippians proposes five distinct leadership values rooted in the example of Jesus:

  1. The value of self-emptying: “emptied himself
  2. The value of becoming a servant: “taking the form of a servant”
  3. The value of humaneness and compassion: “being born in the likeness of men”
  4. The value of humility: “he humbled himself”
  5. The value of obedience: “became obedient to the point of death”

It is interesting to note that the Philippian hymn completes the list of leadership values in describing the radical obedience of Jesus. Christian leaders are marked by a different set of behavioral values and leadership measurements than the world. True leadership is not measured by the mere effects of our activities to lead, it is ultimately judged by our intentions to obey God’s Word. Our world can be changed by Christian leaders that are willing to emulate the radical obedience of Jesus.

I am increasingly persuaded that an authentic Christian leadership can only be formed by turning our eyes once again to the example of Jesus. Only when we have what the Apostle Paul called, “this attitude of Christ”, then our leadership will be marked by self-emptying, servanthood, humaneness, humility and obedience. Nothing less would be Christian leadership that can change our world. Let us rediscover the example of Jesus and lead on.