This past Saturday night, many of us gathered at His Place for IMPACT Leadership Training. I was excited to see that many come together to be sharpened. Thank you for making that event a huge success! I’ve heard from many of you who attended, and without exception, everyone has talked about how much they needed that night.
Looking back, one of the things that we didn’t do well at the end was tie everything together. We heard from three incredible teachers. Each of them taught on different topics. What we hoped to do was use these teachings to make a clear case for taking the reigns and leading. If you will, allow me to summarize here and connect those dots.
Why Should I Lead?
The first question we posed was, “Why should I lead?” Dr. Tony Evans’ teaching on making disciples built a clear case for leadership. The Great Commission, from Matthew 28:18-20, leaves us with a final command: make disciples. But not only did Jesus tell us to make disciples, but he also invested his authority in us to do the job. And not only did he invest his authority in us to do the job, but he promised to be with us until this age of building the Church is complete. Dr. Evans made it clear that we are kind of like NFL referees. There are many more football players on the field, who are stronger, bigger, younger, and faster, than there are referees. But the referees have been invested with authority that keeps the players in line and prevents them from harming the referees. And as long as they make the calls by the book, they will be backed up by the NFL.
We have been invested with the all the authority that has been given to Jesus Christ, so as long as we “play” by the book, he will back us up. Our adversaries are stronger, more clever, maybe even more numerous than us, but as long as we walk in the authority that Christ has given us, they cannot harm us! Dr. Evans closed his teaching with a statement. “Make disciples, or take down your sign.” Don’ call yourself a Christian, don’t call yourself a Church, if you aren’t making disciples. This is why we should lead.
How Can I Lead?
The next question we posed was “How can I lead?” The only way you can lead others effectively is if you lead yourself effectively. To help us answer this question we heard from Dr. Eric Mason. This may have been the deepest teaching of the evening. Dr. Mason taught on the topic of breaking strongholds. Strongholds are not what most of us think. When we think of strongholds we usually think of things like alcoholism, drugs, sexual addictions, and any behavior that would be considered sinful. However, Dr. Mason showed us through an excellent teaching from the life of Gideon that the outward behavior is only the bad fruit of the stronghold. Strongholds are the systems of thinking that produce the sinful behavior. If you want to break a stronghold, you must swing the axe at the underlying roots of the sin.
Why is this important for leading? If you want to lead effectively, you cannot live complacently with the strongholds in your life. You must be actively waging war in the power of the Holy Spirit against the strongholds that produce the sins in your life. Not only is this healthy for your spiritual life, but it also offers testimony to the power of God in your life and encourages other believers that they too can be free! The answer to how is to be diligent in demolishing the strongholds that produce sin in your life (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Where Am I Leading Others?
The final question we posed was “Where am I leading others?” We’ve established why we should lead, we’ve established how we can lead, now that we’re ready, where are we going? To help with this answer, we listened to a teaching from Jen Hatmaker. There is a tendency in many churches to start building programs and offering Bible studies that will attract Christians, but do very little to reach outward into the community. Church can become very inward facing as we take care of our own. There is no doubt that Jesus charged us to love our brothers and sisters in the Church. But Hatmaker’s statements that we have gone too far, serving only the served, and blessing only the blessed gives us cause for pause.
As much as we love each other in the Church, we should have an equally proportioned love for the lost in our community. James says that true religion takes care of the orphans and widows while at the same time keeping ourselves pure (James 1:27). In other words, we can love the addicted without enabling their addictions, we can love the gossips without being gossips, we can love the sexually immoral without condoning their immorality! But you can’t love them without becoming a part of their lives. Where are we leading people? We are leading them out so that we can bring in the harvest!
Why lead? Because we’re empowered and commanded to do so! How can we? By first leading ourselves well and meeting our strongholds head on! Then we can lead others to do the same. Where do we lead? We lead the charge outward into the fields that are white for harvest. We may be called drunks and gluttons because we invite drunks and gluttons into our homes, we may be slandered for associating with the addicted, we . . . wait a second.
So was Jesus.
Now I get it.