The Call of a Leader
God has given me some revelation, as it relates to what God-inspired leadership really is. I've grown up in, what most call, the modernization age of the church. The church has spent the past 20-30 years, trying to conform to culture in order to reach more people. In the midst of this, the paradigm has shifted in the lingo church leaders use to focus more on the growth of "leaders" within the church.
Let me stop right here and say, emphatically, that I believe in leadership and growing leaders within the church. I do, however, believe we have missed the call of a leader on our quest to grow as a leader. In other words, we've focused so much on building a big, beautiful house, but never really take the time to perfect the foundation (see Matthew 7:24-27).
In Matthew 7:21-22, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’"
What this text tells me is, there are going to be a lot of "leaders" who are going to do a lot of "great things" in the earth, but are going to stand before Jesus as He declares to them, "I never knew you." His response here tells a lot about his nature. Notice, Jesus wasn't interested in the ministry they did; He was interested in their relationship with Him. Do you see the revelation?
Could it be that we've been working so hard to be great leaders but missed that Jesus isn't concerned with how great of a leader we are? He's only concerned with how "in Him" we are, which will then produce the manifestation of identity, which is correct leadership. When I got this, the physical and emotional weight of leadership just fell off my shoulders and freedom flooded my inmost being.
Practically I would ask you, when you think through your weekly calendar, which of the following two categories outweighs the other:
- Pouring out into others.
- Receiving from the Father.
If your answer was 1, like mine was before I came into this revelation, it's time to reevaluate what God is doing in you. This isn't an easy process. It's a process filled with people not understanding you, people leaving you, people making fun of you, people thinking you're incapable of doing the task God has placed in your hands, but it is worth it. It's also a process that is not quick. The first thing that will cause leaders to bail on "identity first" leadership is the fact that it takes time... a lot of time. Why? Because at the root of it, the only reason we want express leadership is pride in leaving a name for ourselves.
God is looking for a group of people who are willing to drop their personal destiny to pick up the "in Him" identity. Why do you think Jesus was born to a virgin teenager, in Bethlehem, in a manger? Because He was modeling, even at his birth, what it was like to only care about furthering the will of the Father, not his personal fame.
Leadership is not how many followers we can get; It's how close to Him we can get. Remember, people flocked to Jesus because of the kingdom of God on his life, not because he was a marketing genius. What would happen if the church was filled with leaders who had one agenda: how close to Him can I get?