Called To Lead

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“Many people think being “called” by God only applies to pastors, missionaries, or those employed by professional Christian ministries. But this view is damaging to the lives of “ordinary” people, and it is detrimental to the purposes of God. Jesus called fishermen and doctors and carpenters and accountants to follow Him, to become leaders of His church. This shows Jesus’ intent – all are called to a life of servant leadership, no matter their vocation or status in life. Leaders are those who have said yes to being fully devoted disciples of Jesus, and are called to serve Him in whatever vocation He places them.

Jesus believed there is leadership potential in everyone and He came to liberate it.

Leadership is the result of serving other people; if you serve people, you lead them. I estimate that 90 percent of disciple making in the world is done by people in the marketplace – not missionaries and pastors. We become leaders when we become obedient followers of Jesus, not when we quit our jobs to study for the “ministry”.

Are you confident of God’s call on your life? Are you leading where He has placed you? Studying the leadership principles of Jesus will …”

If you would like to read more about the leadership principles of Jesus, have a look at ‘Leading Like Jesus: 40 Lessons From The Upside Down Kingdom’ on Amazon here

How To Get Vision For Your Life

Vision for our lives is a clear mental picture of what could be. A vision for our lives is an inspiring picture of what could happen through our service to God and to others. Vision is also an inner longing for something you have not yet experienced but believe God wants to see happen through you.

Vision is not limited to those who serve as ministers or missionaries. God has a specific vision for every person who follows Jesus.

On December 17, 1903 Orville Wright flew the first sustained airplane flight from level ground. He flew 37 meters for 12 seconds. The Wright brothers had a clear mental picture of what could be. That picture, and the inner longing to see it happen is what motivated them to dedicate their lives to ‘flight’ becoming a reality.

Every time I step onto an airplane I marvel that the Wright brothers had such an outlandish vision. I am thankful they gave their lives for the vision to become a reality because it means that I can travel the world, fulfilling my vision.

Vision without commitment is actually just fantasy. The Wright brothers had to have commitment and endurance to go with their vision. It took years of sacrifice and rejection by friends for their vision to become a reality.

Vision precedes reality. How do you picture your life in ten years? What do you picture yourself accomplishing? Take a moment to write it down - that is your vision.

Vision is powerful because it gives significance to the mundane details and the not-so-mundane difficulties of our lives.

Without a vision people languish in mediocrity and mundaneness.

Whatever you do, get a vision for your life!

Vision weaves four things into the fabric of our lives:

  1. Passion. Vision evokes intense emotion. There is no such thing as an emotionless vision. A clear, focused vision allows us to experience ahead of time the emotions associated with our anticipated future. Passion is more than intense desire, it is the willingness to suffer and sacrifice for our desire to be fulfilled.
  1. Motivation. Vision provides inspiration. It gives us a reason to do things, to make sacrifices, to say no to other opportunities. Vision driven people are very motivated. They WANT to get things done.
  1. Direction. Vision takes us in a particular direction. It serves as a roadmap. Vision leads us to our destiny. Vision simplifies decision-making. I love sports. I loved and played basketball. But when I got a vision for my life, I did something that shocked my friends. I gave up basketball. I quit my team in the middle of season. Something more important had taken hold of my heart. I went back to basketball later in the season, but then it was a means to a far greater end goal: my God given vision.
  1. Purpose. Vision gives you a reason to do what you do. Vision gives purpose and purpose gives us momentum to move in a direction. A vision gives you the clarity of purpose to overcome barriers and make sacrifices. Another way to say this is vision gives us a reason for what we do.

The Divine Element

God has a vision for your life. You were dreamed over by God before you were born. His part was to create us with purpose and vision, and our part is to discover it. When God speaks to us He turns possibilities in our lives into a conviction and a hope for our future.  God has a mental picture of who you can be and what can be accomplished through your life. By hearing from God we begin to believe in our vision.

Knowing your vision is from God turns a possible dream into a must-do conviction. Above all things, seek God for His vision for your life... but remember, He won't reveal it to the casual person who doesn't care enough to ask Him and to seek him diligently.

Practically speaking, how does God use the circumstances of our lives to give us vision? 

Three ways:

  1. By seeing a need and responding to the need - doing something about it
  2. Being dissatisfied with what is happening around you in life
  3. Hearing from God that He wants to use you to make a difference

How do you discover your vision?

Take some time to LOOK…

  • Look within you - what is your passion?  What has God already spoken to you about? What strong desire is growing in you? Submit it to the Lord and if it grows, accept it as a calling, a vision from God for your life. Psalm 37:4-5
  • Look behind you - how have past lessons and experiences prepared you to pursue your vision? What experiences and people has God used to speak to you and grow certain desires and convictions in you?
  • Look around you - what’s happening around you in the circumstances and relationships of your life that God has used to stir vision in you? There are people that God has placed in your life to speak vision into your life.
  • Look ahead of you - what do you want to accomplish with your life? It may be that the desires and dreams you have for you future are God's way of speaking to you, of giving you vision for your life.
  • Look above you - what part does God play in your life and dream? How has God spoken to you in the past? Write down the promises God has given you. If you don't have any, ask God for them and keep your ears alert to note them when He speaks. Read the Bible with expectancy... what would God like to speak to you from His Word?
  • Look beside you - what resources are available to you? What skills and abilities do you have that you can use to make a difference in people's lives? Use them. Offer them in service. Get involved.
  • Look alongside you - who can partner with you in this pursuit? Are you part of a community of faith? Are their great people who share your concerns and convictions? They are there for a reason.

The Vision and Calling of All Nations:

In 1993 God impressed on Sally and I this simple but huge vision: Jesus worshipped by all the nations of the earth.

So, with a few friends, we started on a journey to turn that vision into a reality. Today, All Nations works in 35 countries - and is growing. Our workers have seen tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of people come to faith, discipled and gathered in communities of faith that are impacting villages, cities and nations.

Working closely with friends and co-workers in the All Nations family of churches, we defined some specific goals to turn our vision into a mission: to make disciples and train leaders to ignite church planting movements among the neglected peoples of the earth.

That is our vision... we invite you to join us to see it become a reality. But if not with us, then you live out your vision with others who share your vision. As we all live our visions for the Lord, as varied as they may be, we are in this together!

All of life is spiritual if it is lived for God! There are no secular or sacred visions. Every vision from God is sacred, is spiritual. The market place is a spiritual place to live out your vision if that is where God wants you.

Don't be intimidated or think of yourself as less than "full time" for God if you serve Him in the market place. That is GOD'S vision for you! 

Whatever vision God has given you, wherever He has placed you to follow that vision, if it is from God, it is worth giving your life for! Go for it!


The Fruit of Your Labors Will Follow You - Part Three

Jesus had fruit that followed him because he lived a determined life.  He cultivated the heart of a warrior and the lifestyle of a lover. He was fiery, he was focused, he was secure. Everything he did flowed out of a secure, love relationship with the Father. This kind of love is warfare… not necessarily an aggressive, frontal attack kind of warfare, but warfare born of love. Having spiritual fruit that follows us to heaven is the result of fighting for what we love and believe in on earth.

To attack a baby with it’s mother nearby is an invitation to a fight. A mother defends her children to the death because of love. She conceived them in intimacy, birthed them in pain, and nursed them with tender care. They are hers. They belong to her and she to them.

Whether male or female, extrovert or introvert, we are all called to warfare. Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan.” Paul said, “I have fought the good fight.”  These words speak of facing trials, tests and being overcomers by fighting for what is ours.

Having fruit that follows us is the result of living a well-directioned life. We face forward, toward the prize. We look forward to hearing “well done.” We know the direction God has called us to face and we face it…not to the right, not the left, but straight ahead.

God determines forward for you. It may not be my forward, but it is your forward. It is the right direction.

We each are assigned a destiny in life... God shapes us and lays sovereign foundations in our lives:  our race, our culture, our ancestry, our personalities and gifts... these are His gifts to us.  It is up to us to receive these “gifts” and develop them for the specific purpose he has for our lives.

If we are to take hold of our destiny, it will be the result of fierce focus on the main thing, that one thing, the purpose and calling of God for our lives. Those who give in to difficult circumstances and challenges in life, those who lose sight of God’s direction for them, lose out.

Having fruit that follows us is the result of living a well-disciplined life. Jesus refused to compromise the truth. He spent time with the Father on a regular basis. He said “no” to lesser passions. He cultivated a life of fasting, prayer, scripture reading and speaking about the Father.

When some of his disciples fell away, Jesus stayed true to the Father. When he faced suffering and death, Jesus said to the Father, “Let this cup pass from me...but never-the-less, your will not mine be done.”

This is not a popular Twitter topic. It’s not news-feed you read much about on FB. There is a well-deserved reaction to religion versus relationship amongst young evangelicals, I agree, but with that reaction we must not throw out the good with the bad. Don’t throw out spiritual disciplines to avoid un-spiritual religion.

By-all-means enjoy life. Life is God’s gift to us to be celebrated. Laugh, play, watch a good movie, exercise, enjoy your friends. Healthy spirituality includes rhythms in life of play, pray and obey.

But as you play, don’t leave out pray and obey. Don’t let God’s grace in your life be in vain. Lay hold of that for which God has laid hold of you. He has a plan for you, he has a destiny for you... don't lost sight of it and don't lose hope for it. It is from God and therefore it is worth fighting for!

It is written of Jesus, “For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross.” Some things are to be endured faithfully so we can rejoice fiercely!


Adopt or Plant?

Movements of churches tend to emphasize adoptions or new church plants, but rarely can you do both on a significant scale and be successful.  Here is the challenge: whatever existing churches you adopt under your brand, you need to manage. It’s an matter of alignment. If the churches you adopt do not have the same leadership style, ministry philosophy, core values and vision, there will be dilution or conflict, or both.   One pastor here in South Africa confided in me, “Our movement adopted a large network of churches in Kenya. I deeply regret doing so. We inherited a lot of leadership problems that have cost us huge amounts of time and finances. We met some wonderful people in the process, but it has shaped who we are as a movement in ways we did not want.”   Know what you are called to do, and do that well, but don’t try to mix the two approaches. Those who are called to birth and build apostolic movements should be super-cautious about adopting existing churches they did not plant. Every adopted church brings with it a set of expectations, needs, and values that may be incompatible with your calling to focus on “building on no other mans foundation.”

Called of God

From the excellent website, comes this devotional article.  

Called of God

By Peter Sung

And he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?” But he had nothing to say. ~ Matthew 22:12

READING: Matthew 22:1-14

Every Christian is at once called to salvation and to ministry. Christians minister because we are called of God. Sometimes a more specific calling is recognized to be on a person and that person is called out by his community to help equip other Christians to do better ministry. It is the responsibility of the church community to discern whether that calling should also include a transition from secular employment to paid full time ministry.

The Greek word for calling is kaleo which means “to call out loud or to invite.” By definition, others must issue an invitation or a call. I cannot invite myself to someone else’s wedding party. That is the prerogative of the host. God does the calling. A church community does the confirming.

Consider your own calling. Who’s calling you? What are they calling you to do? The notion of calling gets tricky with church planting because the church community is yet to form and therefore yet to call. But, if we are indeed called, we answer to someone in some way. To whom are you accountable? As the apostle Paul says, no one can preach unless they are sent. Who is sending you?

Many church planters are rogue, isolated and unaccountable. They have invited themselves to a party without receiving any invitation. Jesus once told a sobering parable about a guest who was not invited and not properly dressed. He was promptly removed from the party lest the guest of honor, his son, be dishonored.

Are you called of God? Has your calling been confirmed by a community? Are you accountable?

Thank you, Father, for calling me and for using others to confirm it. Help me to walk worthy of my high calling with integrity and proper submission. Amen.

The Saul Syndrome

Can a leader or nation lose their calling and destiny? 
There is more than one example in Scriptures of this happening. King Saul in the Old Testament is but one example. Saul suffering from a pattern of inner brokenness and outer rebellion that caused him to lose his kingship. He suffered from what I call the "Saul Syndrome". He is how it works, a vicious cycle of in security and rebellion: It starts with a lack  of identity, which leads to deep inferiority, which produces cycles of crippling insecurity, which results in rash acts of impulsiveness, which deepens into independence and rebellion = the Saul Syndrome cycle, one inner issue leading to another, and to another.

1 Sam 9:2, 10:23 - There were two polar extremes in Saul, the flesh and the spirit battled for control in his life; Saul lost the inner battle but won the leadership prize through outer appearance and stature; he was tall and good looking, he possessed charisma of personality, but inside he was insecure and lacked identity of who he was as a man of God.

There are seven consequences of the Saul Syndrome: 

Contagious lack of courage - Both courage and cowardice are like a virus; the people catch what the leader carries in his or her heart. Saul would not fight Goliath, but David did - 2 Sam 23 - David inspired the armies of Israel to fight, but Saul inspired them to inaction and fear. Where a  leader with courage leads, people follow.

Fearing what the people think, leading to acts of religious piety to impress people. Without courage it doesn’t matter how good your intentions are. See 1 Samuel 15. Saul offered burnt offerings to the Lord, but it was an act of disobedience and cowardice - he tried to impress the people, not obedience to the Lord. The sacrifice the Lord requires is a sincere heart and a broken spirit.

Running from opportunity. Godly courage empowers you to do what you are afraid of doing in the natural - Saul hid among the baggage when it was time to time to come forward to be anointed king - 1 sam 10:22

Jealousy of others. But where there is courage, we break free of the slavery of insecurity and possessiveness. Saul was jealous of David because of lack of inner courage and confidence in who God had called him to be.

Indecisive. When leaders have courage the people will have commitment.  There are some decisions leaders make without hearing God tell them to do it, it is simply the courageous thing to do. Those kind of decisions are the result of inner core values birthed in a person through testing and trial, and staying close to God.

Fear of letting go of the past to embrace change and a new future. A leader with courage will let go of the familiar to face a new future.

Disloyalty in relationships. The Saul Syndrome produces unreliable leaders.