Jesus, priorities

Keeping the most important thing the most important thing.

I wrote recently about Church being US, you and me, living it out in community and relationship with each other, needing each other, and other people needing us.
The acknowledgement that we sometimes as individuals and community don’t get it right, but still with the challenge to seek to live it out. Ending with the prayerful challenge of John Wimber “Lord, Send Revival, Start with me!”
The sense of personal responsibility for the Church, our role within it, and our calling serve Christ and one another, to keep ourselves and our brothers and sisters sharp, as a friend once said “Contending for one another’s hearts”
I did the whole article without mentioning the words, Leader or Pastor or Vicar, because actually in one sense before the cross of Christ we are all equal, sinners in need of grace, we all have a calling, and I believe a calling to leadership is a call to serve, following the call of him who took a towel and washed his disciples feet.
In our culture Politicians talk about serving us, but really rule us, this shouldn’t be so for the Christian as the only one called to reign is that of Christ Jesus.
Christian ministers we are called to serve, as Jesus himself said: “I have not come to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many”.
Too often, as I have said before we have a model of leadership which looks more like Alan Sugar than Jesus Christ.
Yet we do need leaders.
I’ve seen Churches become leaderless, or their leader not step up to the plate, and an unlead Church doesn’t go anywhere,  the Church normally grinds to a halt… rust sets in, and the Church fossilizes.
Leaders need to lead.
If Moses had offered no leadership the people of Israel would still be slaves in Egypt.
If Nehemiah had not offered any leadership the walls of Jerusalem would not have been rebuilt.
If Jesus had not lead the Disciples you probably wouldn’t be reading this now.
Probably all of us lead in some form or another, but the key question is what and where are we leading God’s people in?
I did a course called the Arrow Course, A course designed for younger leaders, it’s strap-line was “To be LED BY Jesus, to LEAD like Jesus and to LEAD more too Jesus”.
Leadership centred in, through, by and to Jesus Christ is the kind of leader I want to be like. Christian leadership like everything in the Christian faith when boiled down to its key components should be totally and unapologetically ALL about Jesus.
If I wanted a biblical picture to try and sum up what I want my life to be all about, I’d choose the pearl of great price, a picture of giving up everything for Jesus, I’d like to be the kind of person who if I was a stick of rock has the words JESUS emblazened through my very core… I know I fall short of this many times, but that’s got to be the vision.
“The Vision is Jesus”, it’s not about me.
Yet we end up with the same problem we have with Church, we want something divine, and we encounter something very human, because his followers are people with treasures in jars of clay.
The joke in clergy circles is every Church wants the Arch-Angel Gabriel to come along and be their Vicar!
 We know that we as leaders are human, and are fallen, and yet almighty God does choose to work through you and me, when we come and make ourselves available to him.
To quote an old cliché “God is more interested in your availability than ability”…”God is not limited by your limitations”…
It is about following Christ where-ever he leads, as faithfully as we can, in partnership with one another, iron sharpening iron as one person sharpens another.
Leaders need people like you and me, to pray for them, to bless and encourage them, to (in love) challenge and inspire.
Leadership is all about these questions, what is God doing now? What is God saying now? Where is he leading now? Will you go?
The Green Cross Code Hedgehog used to say “STOP, LOOK, LISTEN and STEP OUT“…
That’s what Christian leadership is all about, stopping and looking and listening to what God is doing and then taking the step of faith, out of the boat, to where God is leading…
This part that needs us to ask God for bravery and courage, faith spelled by John Wimber as R-I-S-K.
One of the greatest leaders in the Bible is King David who is described as a man after God’s own heart, the book of Ezekial talks about God giving us a new heart, his heart, of flesh not stone, a heart where God has put his Spirit within it.
A dangerous prayer is “God break my heart for what breaks yours”.
What is God saying, what is doing, where is he leading, will you?
And will you keep going no matter what is thrown in front of you?
The problem most leaders start of okay, but it’s not just how you begin that matters, being a Christlike leader is not just about starting well, but continuing well, walking in the footsteps of Christ.
Recently I re-read James Laurences wonderful book growing leaders and he talks about how leaders start off okay, but sadly many

Fade out

Fall out

Sell out
Burn Out
Fade Out, ‘loose your first love’ end up from longing to see heaven invade earth and God’s Kingdom advance, to plodding on keeping the flower arrangers happy, not quitting but  that spark has gone, the fire has petered out, and nothing is happening other than a disillusioned show on the road shuffle towards retirement.
Sell Out, compromising truth for the sake of popularity and comfort,  bowing to pressure when society and biblical values part company or bending to whatever theological pressure group shots the loudest. The Civil Service talking of breaking a new government minister with the phrase “house trained”… Let’s not be house-trained!
Fall Out, how many leader do we hear who cash and burn, sex/money/power takes another scalp of someone who started off in love with Jesus and seeking to serve him, but whom the enemy has taken out the game, because they didn’t realise their vulnerability and take precautions.
Burn Out… Similar in many ways to fall out, but without the sex/money/power scandal, but crash and burn through exhaustion, depression and disillusionment.
The truth is that all of us can in our faith can FADE OUT, FALL OUT, SELL OUT or BURN OUT, just as our leaders can.
I’ll close by something I came to see when I worked in rehab about leadership, the group was lead by an alcoholic in recovery, he was a ‘wounded healer’ but yet he’d  been sober for many, many years but still didn’t take his recovery for granted.
We may be broken people, yet God’s power is bigger than our brokenness, in fact our weakness enables and strengthens our dependence on the only one who truly is faithful and trust-worthy. He is only one that can ‘keep you from falling’… ‘he who will not let your footslip’ -the one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
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