Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Leadership is influence. Any person who has had a significant influence on those around them has been in some sort of leadership position. Take the president of the United States, for instance. He has is in a large leadership people, being the president over a large nation, and therefore he is a very influential leader. On the other hand, Adolf Hitler also had a great deal of influence on those in his country. So was he a leader? A very corrupt one, but yes. Leadership is influence any way that you twist it. But what separates a great leader from an Adolf Hitler is the motives behind that influence. Are you influencing those around you for the good of mankind or for the kingdom of God? Or are you influencing those around you to manipulate them to fit in to the mold of your own personal agenda? This is the main difference between a servant leader and the type of leader that today’s culture teaches us to be.

Somewhere along the line in our culture’s history, it became more important to have the skills to get what you want rather than to maintain your integrity as a leader. One of the most important skills they teach you to have is the ability to manipulate others into jumping on board with your vision or agenda. Now, they do not phrase it this way, but when you put all “cuteness” and politically correct language aside, it is the message that they are teaching. But Jesus Christ gave us an amazing example of what it meant to be a servant first, and then through that servitude, allow his influence to effect others in a positive way. Doing this is an expression of love, and in my opinion we can use Jesus life to guide us into become Godly leaders who understand the importance of fulfilling Luke 9:23 where Jesus states, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and pick up their cross daily and follow me.” (NIV)

Jesus understood something that many people don’t. In order to be an effective leader, you must be a servant first. Too often leaders of today try to implement servanthood into their leadership style. They take the time now and then to serve others in order to gain the respect of those who follow them. But at the end of the day, their number one priority was leading. The example that Jesus gave us was the opposite of this. He chose to be a servant first. A true servant leader leads from the overflow of their servant-hood. They understand that they are a servant to God above all else, and that through being a servant to God and others they might be blessed with the opportunity to lead those who are willing to follow them. At the end of the day, they are a servant first and foremost and they understand their place in the Kingdom of God.

A great way to tell the influence of a leader is to look at the lives of his/her students. When you see the direct influence their teachings have had on those who followed their leadership then you can truly see whether they were effective or not and also the true motives behind their influence. I look at the life of Paul. Paul was one of the most effective evangelists in the history of Christianity. Why is this? Because he took the teachings of Christ and the examples that he gave and he accepted them into his own belief system.The Scripture that came to my mind was 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.It states:

"And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power."

Here Paul was making the claim that he didn't come and teach the Corinthians with a greater wisdom then they had or by any of his own power. The reason he came to teach them was because of Christ and it was through the power of God and the work of his Spirit that made him successful. Paul wasn't excepting the earthly role of leadership. He was giving all of the glory and recognition to God. But we can all agree that Paul was one of the most influential Christian leaders of all time, yet he didn't try to become this leader. He just became a servant of Christ and others and the leadership followed suit.

The conclusion that I want to draw is this: Where did Paul learn to be this kind of leader? Through the teachings and influence of Christ. If you compare Jesus’ teachings and example of being a servant first to the teachings of worldly leadership today, it seems nothing short of radical. But think about this. Jesus Christ was the most influential man to ever walk this earth. Whether you believe he was the Son of God or just a crazy lunatic, you cannot deny his overwhelming influence that has spread throughout the entire world. And he didn’t do it through any public form of leadership. He didn't do it by learning how to manipulate others according to his own agenda. He did it by teaching us to be servant’s first and allowing God to work through the leadership opportunities that will arrive from that servitude.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Vision is a tricky thing. It is a sense so vital to our existence, so essential to the way that we live out our lives, and yet so often people don’t remember how important it really is. Through vision we can see what is front of us. We can recognize the people that we know and trust, and we can identify those that we can’t. We can see the path that appears hundreds of feet before us to make sure we aren’t walking towards something dangerous. But it also allows us to experience aesthetic beauty, which is one of my favorite ways in which I feel God’s goodness and grace. And all we have to do is open our eyes and make sure there is enough light in front of us to see our way.

And yet people continue to live there lives in darkness, not looking for a light switch to light up the path of where they are going.

How can you go somewhere if you cannot see the path to the destination? Better yet, how can you go anywhere if you have no idea where you are going in the first place? It is like blindfolding a child, giving him a grocery list, and pushing him out the front door to walk to the store and find the items that you need and return safely. It doesn’t make any sense. And yet so many of us live our lives that way.

Proverbs 29:18 reads, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” (KJV)

If you cannot see, you cannot live. Now I understand that there are many blind people in this world who have very fulfilling lives, but that isn’t really what I am talking about, and that is for sure not what this verse is telling us. What I am saying is that if we want to get anywhere in this world, we have to have a vision of where we want to go. We have to have a picture in front of us of where we want to be and we have to have enough light to get us there. Without it we are just running around in the dark waving our hands in front of ourselves, hoping to grab ahold of something that will sustain us through the night. But this is not a way to live! And yet so many of us do when it comes to our spiritual lives.

We have all gotten to a point during our time here on earth where we feel completely broken and lost. For many of us we have searched for God’s wisdom and grace to get us through the many dark nights we have faced. But it seems that no matter how hard we try we always end up feeling empty and hopeless. We try our best to live a godly and moral life but we slip back to our old ways of living. We give into the temptation that has haunted us for years and it always seems to get the best of us. We cry out for help from God to come and restore us and to take these trials away, and yet there they are again, whispering in our ears once more.

How many of you have desired to become a better man or woman so you can conquer these chains that have bound you up for what seems a lifetime? I would venture a guess that it is all of you.

So how do we get there? How do we get to that place that we desire to be where the only passion that we have in our hearts is to love and obey God? Well we have to know where we are going first. We have to know the destination that we are seeking out. We can’t just wander around aimlessly in the dark hoping that some day you will stagger into such a place of refuge. No, we have to have a vision of where we want to be someday. We have to know where we want to go and we must have to courage to walk towards that vision.

I think back to my own life and the journey that I have been on as a follower of Jesus Christ. There have been a lot of ups and a lot of downs. And for a long time I couldn’t figure out how to fully mature myself to a place where the only desire I have in my heart is God. And I am not there yet. But what I have discovered is that it is impossible to get there without a vision of where I want to be. I have to know where I want to go and I have to keep that image dangled in front of me like a carrot. I have to have the courage to take those steps toward that destination, even if it feels like I am carrying a million pounds on my shoulders. But I know that this vision of where I want to be, this ultimate destination, is worth every step that I take on this journey.

I work with teenagers for a living. I try to be a guide to them on their spiritual walks with Christ. I do my best to help give them advise when they need it and to shed biblical insight into the issues that they are having. I love my job dearly because I have the opportunity to help shape the future of these students, these young adults, that I believe can change the world. But they will never get there if they don’t have a vision for their life. I know that they are hungry for truth and for full dependence on God, and yet so many of them don’t have a clue where they are going. They continue to wander around in the dark, hoping to stumble upon something good.

The conclusion that I want to draw is that if this is you and you fall under this category, then realize that you need to know where you are going before you can get there. The Bible gives us countless insights on how to live a holy life and to survive and thrive as a follower of Christ. But you need to have a vision of where you want your life to be in the future, and you have to give everything you are to get there.