I have two kids and I care deeply about what I leave behind for them. Like most good parents I have taken lead on making sure the necessary steps to leave behind an Inheritance have been taken care of. But I also want to leave behind a legacy to follow as well. God encourages us to fix our eyes on the things that endure. In light of eternity, leaders cannot become consumed by the temporary.
Too often though, I find myself consumed by just that. For years before I dedicated my life to serving others in ministry, I focused my life on making as much money as I could. I worked around the clock, put all my heart, attention and time into my job. For the most part I enjoyed the job, but I LOVED the paychecks. Even though I had a family, I was married to my work. To make matters worse I would justify my marriage to my work as my way of providing a future for my family. My actions were dictated by the pursuit of money. Financially I was leading well...spiritually I was failing.
As head of the house, I was making a fundamental leadership mistake. Leaders cannot allow the pursuit of wealth or power to move them. Only a vision that outlives them, a vision connected to eternity, will fulfill a godly leader. In other words, I was so focused on building an inheritance, but not a legacy. I was never considering what difference or impact I was going to leave behind when I die. The bible in Psalms 49 reminds us that we can't take anything behind with us...no matter how rich we become. So what will we leave behind that counts?
As I have learned there is a huge difference between leaving an inheritance and leaving behind a legacy. Anyone can leave an inheritance for as little a few bucks a month. An inheritance is something you leave behind TO your family or loved ones that fades with time. The money I leave behind will be spent. I may be thought of while it is being spent, but once gone the thought of my inheritance is gone. A legacy is something you leave IN your family and loved ones.
Here is four differences I have learned between the two.
1. Something tangible you give to others.
2. Temporarily bring them happiness.
3. Eventually fades away.
4. Your activity may or may not pay off.
1. Something tangible you place in others.
2. Permanently transforms them.
3. Lives on long after you die.
4. Your activity becomes achievement.
I have learned that my activity is the difference maker between the two. Am I spending my time focusing on creating a transaction or creating transformation. How I live my life...who I place my faith in...who I choose to impact...my activity in my life is what sets apart the inheritance I leave give and the legacy I build. My question to you is this...what are you focusing on?
Do you ever feel like you are walking without God? You seek him, but can't seem to find him. Nothing seems to be going right in your life. Minor issues turn into major issues, one snowballing on top of the other. To make matters worse spiritually you feel dry and thirsty. Small group life is no longer doing it for you, church seems more of a have to than want to, reading the bible feels dull...spiritually nothing seems to be working.
In Psalm 42, we see a leader who is dry and thirsty. This leader is experiencing a wilderness period, as every leader does at some point. Nothing seems exciting or motivating. In Verse 2-4, the writer seems to be saying, "I used to lead the people in a parade to God, and now I can't even find Him myself!" Fortunately this leader recaptures his perspective in verse 5. He begins to tell himself the truth. In the final verse, he concludes that God will prevail.
I love this Psalm for its humanity, and the lessons about the wilderness we can learn from it. There are 4 lessons we can learn that will help us during our times in the wilderness. I believe most people travel through the wilderness wrong. When we compare the Israelites 40 years to Jesus 40 days, we see a start difference. The Israelites thought they were lost, Jesus knew he was in the wilderness. Jesus came out of the wilderness greater than when he entered it. I believe the way we spend our time in the wilderness will determine how long we are in the wilderness.
1. Be honest with yourself and your state. I have found in my own life that simply recognizing I am in the wilderness has actually been a good thing. Before I realized I was in the wilderness...I simply thought I was lost! I was cynical, short, and began to question my need for God. This is exactly what the enemy wants when were are lost.
There are certain principles about the wilderness that I have to come learn that spiritually expand me. So I look forward to my time there. I don't always like being there, however I know the end result is greater the beginning. When your honest with yourself and your state, all you feel is lost. You feel like the Israelites walking around for 40 years waiting on God instead of seeking God. The longer you are lost, the more your spiritual awareness deteriorates.
2. Cry out to God for renewal. The beautiful thing about the wilderness is this....it's a place for a new beginning. When you look the Israelites, their time in the wilderness was to prepare them for the promised land, Jesus time in the wilderness was to prepare him for his ministry. Time spent in the wilderness is time preparing you for a new beginning. The downside to the wilderness...like the Israelites, most people fail to realize this. Their view become distorted, they become self contained in their own issues, they fail to look up. To most people the wilderness feels more like a punishment than it does a blessing to prepare you. Like the Israelites they cry to out to God prayers of, "Oh God get me out of this, instead of Oh God expand me through this."
3. Refuse to fake it. Be willing to model truth for others. It's amazes me how when I am in the wilderness God seems to place others next to me who are in the wilderness as well. My choice is to either embrace my time in the wilderness or deny it. Most people in the wilderness refuse to embrace it. They try to put on a smile and act like God is not preparing them. They deny the possibility of a work being done. They are trying to fake it until they make it. I have learned that as I begin to look up and look out towards what lies ahead those God has placed in my life at that time seem to do the same. We become a group lifting each other up.
4. Tell yourself the truth about the future. Know that God is preparing you for a new beginning. You are not in the wilderness as a punishment but rather as a gift. It may not seem like it, but sometimes God is trying to enable us to change our posture towards him as he is changing his posture towards us...preparing us for a new beginning.
A year ago around this time, my friend and I were driving to Lynchburg, Va to attend a mens conference, and on our way down there we passed a younger looking man walking along side the road hitch hiking. Now we could see him from a distance, long before we ever got to him. I remember us having a conversation about how wonderful and exciting this years mens conference was going to be. As we approached this young man our conversation changed to him. We talked about how he looked like he was in need and there were two of us to only one of him so we didn't have anything to worry about...we could take him if we had too. But that we should stop and see if we can help him. And we kept talking about it, and saying we should....and then it happened.
We drove right by him. We didn't even slow down to make the effort to stop. As we drove right by we both felt it inside of us. We both felt like we needed to go back. We felt like we had just missed out. Have you ever felt like this before? You just see somebody and you feel it inside of you...you feel something inside of your spirit telling you, nudging you to take action for that person. We both talked about how we were feeling like we needed to turn around and go back...but we never did.
As we continued our drive to Lynchburg, we talked about the spirit moving, how wonderful God is, how great Christians we are, how awesome it is that we get to go to this mens conference. We talked about how much we needed this conference to "recharge the batteries." We talked about how awesome it is to experience God but that both of us were feeling like we were in the wilderness at that particular time in life and this conference we both hopped would be the perfect pick me up.
Looking back...as I type this, I feel it again in my spirit that we should have stopped. I feel like we missed out. I can't explain why... but have you ever felt this way before?
So what was it that prevent us from stopping that day? In one word...COURAGE.
We had an opportunity to experience Jesus, to be the salt and light...but we both lacked courage in that moment. Here's the deal....we don't stand alone when it comes to lacking courage. Courage is RISK...being willing to do the unpopular to accomplish the unforgettable.
So many Christians lack the courage to approach someone they don't know. What's more....most Christians lack the courage to spread the gospel to those they do know! It's almost as if they believe that being a Christian is the unpopular thing, and so they wait for the "right moments" when a conversation between two friends turns to God.
So why do Christians lack the courage...even with their friends? I believe the answer likes in their lack of understanding and realizing that their courage doesn't come from within them, but that it comes from the father and him being sufficient enough for them. We choose to not do the unpopular because we look for and place more value of the approval of others on us then we do the fathers approval. When we learn this simple fact that the only approval that matters the most in our lives is his it gives us a new power and boldness to step out in faith and with courage. When we seek to be popular with God we will do the unpopular tasks like stopping to pick up a young man who needed help, to leave an unforgettable mark.
I can only imagine the conversations that could have happened had us two Christians stopped to help that young man. I can only imagine that we may have been able to lead him to Jesus that day. That we may have been able to possibly...for the first time in his life show him true unconditional love. That for those brief moments that he would have been in the car with us that it would have a been a transformational moment in his life. That although he was looking for the transaction of getting from point A to point B, two Christians living to be popular with Jesus first was looking for the opportunity to transform his life. That our focus and courage do the unpopular would lead the unforgettable in his life. That one day he would look back and say it was at that moment in his life that he first experienced Jesus.
Like I said, I can only imagine...I don't know about you, but I don't want to live a life imagining...I want to live a life experiencing.
What does it mean to serve the Lord? So often you hear on Sundays…serve, serve, serve…and there is nothing wrong with serving on Sunday. However is our christian lives meant to be lived for the purpose of serving on Sunday, or could there be more? In Romans the Apostle Paul describes himself as a servant of the Lord. Before he is an apostle, or a preacher, or church planter…before this titles…he is a servant.
Romans Chapter One gives us one the most comprehensive pictures of leadership in the New Testament. Throughout the New Testament Paul uses the Greek word Doulos, which signifies a servant who has willingly and legally bonded himself to a master. (Romans 1:1, Phil 1:1, Titus 1:1)
The Old Testament gives the Hebrew background for this concept. When it came time for a master to release a slave, that slave had two options: accept his freedom, or remain and serve the master by choice. To stay as a love-slave made him far more useful, since he served willingly. This is exactly the same concept Jesus teaches us that although we are now no longer slaves and are free, the choice we make should be to serve willingly.
In Romans 1 Paul describes himself as a servant in three ways.
1. I am a Debtor. (v.14) This literally meant he had a debt to pay. Paul's debt wasn't to the lord as he was free from that obligation, but it was to the people! Paul's attitude was that he owed those who hadn't heard the gospel. Unfortunately, most Christians attitudes are not that of I owe you but that you owe me. So often Christians look for a church to be a debtor to them instead of them being the debtor as the church. It's becomes all about what programs does the church offer me? Can I join the church basketball team? Does the church listen to me? Am I valued? The work is too hard. The attitude is I just want to slide in and slide out unnoticed. As long your attitude is about you, it will never be about someone else. There will always be a conflict for attention there. The apostle Paul understood this. He realized that he had a debt paid for him that was greater than he could ever pay back, and because of that he chose to be a debtor to the people. He chose to be a debtor as the church.
2. I am Ready. (v.15) The apostle Paul was literally burning inside. He passionately gave himself to the cause by choice. Regardless of the bumps and potholes along the road, he was able to maintain enthusiasm. So often we feel we are ready and then loose enthusiasm shortly after getting started. We get burned out by serving. Somewhere along the way we loose the passion, we loose that burning feeling inside to want to impact. We settle for becoming complacent. How was it that Paul never settled? His enthusiasm was a response to God's grace, not the worlds grace.
3. I am not Ashamed. (v.16) Why not? Because although he was a despised minority within a despised minority, his message brought God's power to save everyone. There was nothing to small for Paul. There was no task for God that seemed too trivial. Paul didn't hide who he was or who God was. He knew God's power to save, and was willing to do whatever was necessary to share the gospel.
I was recently having a conversation with a friend of mine about pastors teaching, and he said, " so many pastors tell you why but never really teach you the how." I know I need to listen to God but how?
Today I want to share with you the HOW. How do you know that God is giving you a fresh vision for your life? In Acts we see a story of Peter and Cornelius and both had encounters. During Peters vision, he was told to kill an animal but he refused to because he was living under the pretext of old revelation. His words were, "not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean." Under the old way of doing things Peter never should have even spoken with Cornelius. During that vision God set the stage to change Peter's life.
Here is three things about How To Tell if God is communicating something fresh into you.
1. Supernatural Revelation. God expands Peter Horizons during his vision when he tells Peter that what God has cleansed is neither unclean or common. God gave a fresh revelation to Peter. God will give you a fresh revelation that will help to see outside the box. He will give you a new education that will lead you to new conviction. Peter became convicted and convinced to speak as a Jewish man to another man from another country. His conviction allowed him to redefine what is possible, as he was no longer constricted to the rules of the old way. When you receive a fresh revelation about what is possible in your life that is from God.
2. Supernatural Invitation. God sends associates of Cornelius to invite Peter to enter a new scope of ministry to the Gentiles. God will invite you to a new area of ministry by bringing new people into your life. When you begin feeling drawn or connected to the new it may be your supernatural invitation.God is looking to give you a new exposure, with new people, to create a new compassion.
3. Supernatural Conformation. God confirmed this enlarged vision he gave to Peter with a receptive Cornelius and signs following his conversion. God will confirm a new vision in your life by the new experiences that lead you to a new commitment.
When God wants to draw new obedience from His servants, He almost always communicates fresh vision. This is exactly what Peter got.
Have you ever tried to do one of those children's puzzles which has objects hidden in a picture? There is a line-drawing of a scene in the woods on the puzzle box. Upon glancing at it, you see some trees, an old log lying on the ground, a stream running through the middle, and some plants growing along the water's edge. That is all.
But the instructions say, "Can you find hidden in this picture a duck, a house, a boy, a bucket, a zebra, and a boot?"
Looking more carefully, you see them jumping out at you. There is the boy in the plants by the stream, the duck is on the side of the old log, and -- wonder of wonders -- the zebra is upside down in the tree.1
You saw none of these things until you really began looking for them -- searching for them in unlikely places. They had been invisible to you, but before long you began to see the invisible.
Seeing the invisible is not something we are very good at. It is just not our nature to try. But it can be done .
We see this play out in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 11 is often called the "Hall of Faith" because it enshrines men and women of faith who triumphed in their own lifetimes. In verse 11:13 we read something that stands apart though..."These all died in faith, NOT having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. This particular verse teaches us the technique to see the invisible.
It's almost impossible to separate faith and vision, yet that is exactly what the majority of today's Christians do. So many Christians will literally die in faith, without ever once living out a vision. For some reason we have settled for just existing in this life. These leaders found in Hebrews died in faith, and although they didn't receive the tangible fulfillment of God's promises, they did see them from a distance. Their journey was all about vision, about seeing the invisible future. Leaders live by vision.
Here is four things I want to share with you about seeing the impossible.
1. Vision: To see the impossible you have to be see the promises yet to come. Your power for today will be because you have a vision for tomorrow. This applies to all areas of your life. You have to see the yet to be fulfilled....fulfilled.
2. Confidence: You must be assured of the promises of God. His promises are not directed at just person or a few special people who are in the "club," but they are meant for all. Is your confidence causing you to focus on making a legacy more than a living? When you focus is on the leaving a legacy, you open the door for God to focus on your living.
3. Hunger: You must be willing to embrace the promises of God. Did you know the bible is more of a book about receiving than it is giving. Jesus talks more about how to receive than he did to give. Why? Because we don't receive well. Have you ever had someone try to bless with you something? Your first reaction is to not receive it! Do you have ownership of what your future generations will enjoy. Are you taking ownership in a better family structure now? Are you taking ownership in a better marriage now? Are you taking ownership is being a better leader now? Are you taking ownership of your faith?
4. Resolve. Make up your mind. Resolve to have your dreams consume you not your memories. So many Christians are stuck in tombs of their past. They have resolved that their past is what is determines their future. They can't dream big dreams for God because someone told them in their past they weren't good enough. To see the impossible you have to be willing to let go of the unshakeable. Make your mind up. Allow your dreams to consume your heart and your not your memories.
I just wanted to share a few quick thoughts from this past weekend. In case you missed it we had 4 people give their life to Jesus this weekend. This is major reason to celebrate!!!
Tomorrow we are officially a year old and what a journey it has been so far. God has moved mountains in our church and has done some amazing miracles over theses past 12 months.
Here are just a few.
1. We have seen 9 people this year alone accept Christ. It may not seem like a lot but to God it is reason to throw 9 parties.
2. We have grown so much in how we serve, who we serve and why we serve. This past Saturday was a great example of how just being present in the community...outside of our four walls...gave us opportunity to pray for so many needs. It's easy to lose sight of the needs of others. It's not always about doing something, fixing something or throwing money at something.... Sometimes it's just taking the time to be present to ask "how an I pray for you?"
3. I have heard so many stories of how people who don't even attend are catching our messages online, reading blogs, following on twitter ( which has grown from 250 to over 16,300+ followers.) Just this weekend are family come up to me to let me know how they have watching online because they can't get to church. I was blowing away by that.
4. I have personally seen so much growth and stretching in reactors who would not do what they are now willing to do for God. I have heard statements like, " this is way out of my comfort zone." God's comfort zone for you and your comfort zone are almost always polar opposite.
5. It has been so amazing to see the changes in the family structure. Men stepping up, having hard conversations and stepping out with a desire to lead themselves and their family better. Generations are being impacted as a result.
6. God has provided for a church that has been dismissed by so many other churches and people. Just this weekend we were asked to join a Christian radio station (FM based reaching all over Virginia) to co-host an hour morning gospel show. Which we will be doing the 2nd week in October. Expanding the reach to tens of thousands more than we could otherwise. This is God moving big time.
7. In 9 months of keeping track of stats we seen over 7000 people in all 50 states and 36 counties including Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia visit us online and watch our services. We are spreading the good news gospel in countries where you could killed for being a Christian. Q For a new church this is simply unbelievable!!!
I know there is still so much I am not touching on but I just wanted to share this with you. You are all amazing REACTORS. I love each of you and am honored to be apart of such an amazing church. God still has so much in store for this church. I firmly believe he's just getting started and the best is still yet to come!!!
I love football season. I love the parties, the games, the tail gaiting...but most of all I love the fans. I love attending footballs games when it is freezing cold outside. Have you ever noticed how in the middle of a blizzard you will have some stupid crazy fans that will go shirtless while painting their chest and face in their team colors? I love these guys. They are so flipping crazy about their team that they don't mind the bitter cold. Some of these guys welcome it! What makes a football fan crazy enough to be like this...Passion.
You know he is not going to work on Monday half naked with his companies colors and logo painted on his chest and face. Why not? Again passion. He has bought into his football team, he has taken a position of ownership in the mission of the team winning the super bowl. He is doing is part as off the wall crazy as it may be to show his support and loyalty to the mission of his team. And here's the deal...he is the 12th man. If you follow football you will know what that means, but his team literally depends on him and his craziness. While he may enjoy his work, the level of passion just isn't the same as it is for his team. At work he is simply a man, not the 12th man. There is a huge difference.
When was the last time you went to church with the church logo and church colors or mission painted on your chest and face. I am willing to bet... never! You probably just read that...laughed and told yourself over my dead body. Here's the better question...why not? Aren't you passionate about your church team? Aren't you passionate about your church winning the super bowl of life by winning souls. Aren't you willing to take ownership in the mission of the team? Would you willing to do what ever it takes regardless of what others think to see your team win? What if your part was to be that crazy follower that sits front row right in front of the cameras with your chest and face painted waiting for the camera to spot you...to let the whole world watching know...you are committed to your team. One last question...Do you serve with that kind of passion at your church now?
The funny thing about passion is the bell curve syndrome. Have you ever noticed how passionate you are about something and after a while... time seems to chip away little by little until you reach the point where you've lost the passion completely? Now what seemed so amazing to you becomes nothing less than a bothersome chore. I find this to be true about "serving in church." I know so many Christians that started serving with such excitement and passion that you couldn't keep up with them. Then a few years go bye and you can't find them. So what happens? Why does it happen? How can I be so on fire for God today and be ice cold tomorrow? Why does it seem like I ride the peaks and valleys of excitement?
The Apostle Paul gives us some great insight about passion. Paul was a leader who possessed both passion and discipline. The reason? He felt consumed with his mission. I completely believe that the Apostle Paul would have been a chest and face painted fan if it would let the world know about Jesus. I have noticed in my past, the reason for my loss of passion was because I was never really consumed with the mission. I would get excited by others excitement but never fully bought in. I didn't drink enough of the kool-aid....and you may find yourself in a similar position right now. I was neither a committed fan or follower. I was one of those christians that picks that winning team each year to be my team. Each year it would be different. Kind of like those Christians that church shop each year looking for the church that is winning, because they feel like their church is loosing! Here is four things I want toshare with you about the Apostle Paul's Passion.
1. His passion exceeded his position. His Position: I am free from all men. His Passion: I have become a slave to all men. Here is what I notice with a lot of Christian that serve. They look for promotion. They serve with the mentality that it will lead to a greater position within the church. There service is from the mentality of look at me and how great I am. These people will never tell you this...but their actions prove it. We all know Christians who will get upset because something doesn't go their way! The pastor recognizes somebody else instead of them. Or the pastor doesn't implement one of their ideas. Their passion to serve is fueled by their desire to excel, not the desire for the gospel to excel.
2. His passion exceeded his personal preferences. The Apostle Paul insisted on fulfilling the mission. Compassion is what drove him, not compromise. All too often our personal preferences take front seat, not the fulfillment of the mission. It is easy to lose your passion when your desires come first. You begin to tell yourself statement like this...I would rather do this instead of serving. I would rather just attend instead of putting my hands on the net. Can I tell you that I have literally had Christians tell me that serving would take away from their growth in Jesus. Talk about putting personal preferences first.
3. He was high on people, not people being high on him. The Apostle Paul knew what was worth dying for and what wasn't. He valued people over himself. His motives to serve was always centered around transformation and not the transaction. He never served with the mentality of being served. I have served with Christians in the past where their focus was about them being a leader and having people follow them. It was so bad that they literally dictated how people should learn the gospel and at what pace. They served the church and would bounce from church to church looking for the leadership position so the church could serve them.
4. He remained fixed on his mission yet was flexible in his methods. The Apostle Paul kept his mission in sharp focus. He committed himself to God and his goal. This seems to be the number reason people stop serving. They are inflexible in the methods. If I can't be in the kids area I don't want to serve. If the church doesn't have this or that in place then I don't want to attend. I have heard this a lot in my time as a pastor... Super talented people who were so fixed on a particular method that the method blinded the overall mission.
If you find yourself questioning whether serving or not is worth it. If you find yourself losing your passion ask yourself if you are serving for you or the Kindgom. Odd's are your loss of passion is because your focus has shifted. I know because I have been there. Sometimes it just a matter or re-evaluating what mission you are serving for and asking yourself am I willing to paint my chest for this mission. Am I the 12th man...
Have you ever felt like you didn't know what God's vision was for your life? For many years I felt lost this way. I also believe the reason why so many christians never really move forward in their walk with God is because they don't understand how to discern what God's vision is for their life. They basically go fishing every sunday hoping that maybe...just maybe a message will speak so sharply to their core that they will catch the will of God for their life. I believe this in my core that God named our church Reaction Church specifically to speak to this very issue.
I have spent the last year pastoring a group of radical individuals who are catching God's vision for their life. I love the awakening that is birthed when a person has that "ah ha" moment regarding Gods vision and purpose for their life. With just a few days away from our one year mark I have spent a lot of time in prayer seeking God and really wanted to use this blog as a way of hopefully reaching and impacting a broader base than I could on just Sundays. Today I want to share with you six steps to help you finally catch the vision, will, purpose and plan God has for your life.
1. Look within you. What do you feel? A better way of asking this question is what is it that pains you the most when you look around at the world? For some it's the homeless, the hungry, the poor, the widowed...what is it that causes your heart the most pain? Your pain very well could be your assignment.
2. Look behind you. What have you learned? You know why what pains you the most pains you. You may not be willing to share the why behind the pain but I would be willing to bet that your pain is because what you have experienced in your life up to this point.
3. Look around you. What is happening to others? Have you ever bought a car that you never really seemed to notice before and then once you got it you saw it everywhere? God will always place you right in the middle of your assignment. It's just matter of you recognizing it. Sometimes to open your eyes you have to open your heart. To open your heart you may have to open your past.
4. Look ahead of you. What is the big picture? Can you see how if you were willing to be used you could make a difference? Most often when someone identifies what pains them the most, they begin to see it play out in others around them, but they never step out in faith because they can't see how they play into the picture. So often I hear statements like, "I could never." or "I don't have the right education" or "I don't know where to start" or "I don't have the time." Notice how all of these are lack statements. You may even already know what it is that causes your heart the most pain but can't see yourself being used in the bigger picture. Your lack mentality causes you to disqualify what God has already qualified in you.
5. Look above you. What does God expect of you? Do you really believe that you are living all there is to your faith right now? If Jesus were to stand beside you...would you be mistaken for his twin because you are walking in and living in all the fullness that God has for you? I serious doubt it!!!! Realize that God's expectation of your capacity will always exceed your expectation of your capacity. He numbered the hairs on your head. If he cared that much about your hair how much more do you think he cares your about purpose. You were born for the purpose of impacting.
6. Look beside you. What resources are available to you? I hear so often I can't because I don't have. I don't have the time, the talent, or the money. I would love to but.... Can I tell you that when I started Reaction Church we had NOTHING!!! We didn't have a core team. We didn't have any money at all. We didn't have anything other than a vision that my wife and I were willing to be obedient to. Sometimes your vision is the resource. We broke every "church planting " rule in the book. Almost every church we approached told us we would fail and that is why they would not help support us. For a year we held onto the vision and prayed that if it was God's will then it was God's bill. With a couple of friends and family we launched...a year later we are still alive and well. Still no church is supporting us. I tell you this not to impress you but to impress upon you that God has the resources because he is the source. What you do have is passion, desire, capacity, & time (you control you time)...There is no such thing as I don't have the time. The widowed woman used her passion, desire, capacity and time to fill the jars with oil until she ran out of jars. God has already given you the initial resources to get started living out the vision and purpose he has for your life.
My prayer is that you read this God begins to stir in your heart some tough questions that you have to answer. I also pray that as you catch God's vision for your life you make the decision to act on that vision. Never again allow yourself to disqualify what God has qualified.
Have you ever felt like you couldn't be used by God or that you were not called by God. You go to church, see others serving well but just don't feel like that is you. I can remember a time in my life when I felt this way. When I first started my walk with God I would look around and see "the called" and felt envious of them and sadden by the fact that it wasn't me. I want to share with you a scripture that changed my life when I opened my eyes and heart to what it meant in my life.
Ezekiel 22:30 says this, "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not destroy it, but I have found none.
I share this verse with you because it contains five things God looks for in a leader. My prayer is that as you read this God gives you a fresh revelation as to what it means to be a leader. For the longest time I was messed up with the wrong idea, and quite frankly so were the "leaders" around me.
1. God doesn't look for a committee, to meet and decide on behalf of the people... He looks for a single person! This isn't like sports when you were a kid waiting to be picked to be on a team only to be picked last...if at all! I used to believe that it was the church that picked the leaders. That the "elders" got together to review potential predetermined leader candidates. From those leader candidates the upcoming leaders were selected and announced to the church. So the way to be selected and recognized was to be at every church event, do every detail the church asked...basically be perfect for the church. And with a little time and luck you might get selected for the team. The problem with this is most churches miss out on amazing leaders at their church because the amazing leader isn't part of the "club." So instead you get committee selected crappy Christians in leadership positions that God would probably never select them for and they lead horribly. Instead of building you up they tear you down in the name of Jesus if you don't conform to the ways of the team. This is not biblical leadership. This is committee leadership. God could care less about our church committees as he builds up the potential to be a great leader in someone.
Here's a little secret. The mark of a great leader is someone who is willing to stand against the church norm and stand up for what God has called on their life.
2. This person would relate best to people within his own culture. Yes sometimes God calls you to lead right where you are at, and it may not be in church. It very well may be with the people in your life. Ezekiel was called to be a prophet to his people. Here's the deal...it always starts with self leadership.
3. A builder of walls. Leadership takes work and commitment. It is not easy and sometimes seem to cause you more pain then what it seems to be worth. I know so many leaders who have started well, but finished horribly. Leadership can be discouraging. Most leaders want a large following because they see glamour and self worth in how many people follow them. What if you were called to lead only 12 people to change the world. This is who Jesus led. Your call to leadership may only to be to lead your family well, and in doing so generations are changed as a result.
4. Stand in the gap. Are you willing to be a bridge builder between the people and God. We all know people who "have tried church" and gave up because they couldn't seem to cross that bridge. They didn't sport the right christian apparel, their journal wasn't made of mole skin, they used the wrong bible not approved by the church, they didn't speak the right church lingo, missed all the cues when to raise their hands during worship, skipped on the offering plate, and usually walked in late to service...that is if they even made it all. Instead they drank beer, used what ever bible they had at the time, spoke redneck, and dressed with a who cares attitude. They went to church when the races or Sunday football didn't interfere. And as a result of their lack of conformity and instant commitment they were beaten by the very church that promised hope and love. Instead of building the bridge the church removed the planks making it impossible for them to cross and consequently they gave up trying. This is the story you will hear every time. The leaders God is looking for are the ones that build bridges and fill the gaps. Choose to be a plank layer.
5. On behalf of the land. God will always mold, build up and use leaders who carry a burden and vision for where they live. This is not saying that God won't call you to someplace else because he could, but he is also looking for leaders who are burden by the issues facing where they live and have a vision to make a difference. I have learned that your God given vision may not match up to the church's vision and that is OK. The vision God gave to Jesus to change the world didn't match up with any church's vision at the time.
Keep this in mind...the harvest is plenty but the workers are few. Are you willing to work and lead well for God?