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 Two

At a very young age, seeking to recruit a friend to join him in China, Robert Morrison wrote these words, “I wish I could persuade you to accompany me. Take into account the 350 million souls in China who have not the means of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior…”

The year was 1806. At this time, except for the purpose of trade, foreigners were forbidden entrance into China. Every foreigner, on landing, was strictly interrogated as to what his business might be. If he did not have a reasonable answer to give, he was sent back on the next sailing vessel. Morrison was aware of the dangers but was still willing to go in faith, believing Jesus would open a door for him to stay in China.

Reading about the life of Robert Morrison, I am reminded of the fierce focus of Paul the apostle:

“I consider my life worth nothing to me...if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me” (Acts 20:24)

At about the same time these words were spoken to the Ephesian elders, Paul also wrote to his young disciple Timothy and said,

“...the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (II Timothy 4:6-8).

Paul lived with the expectation that there was a reward awaiting him. He pictured Jesus awarding him on “that day.” It was the vision of Jesus in the future that kept him going in the present. It was the pure picture of pleasing Jesus that ensured the fruit of his labors would follow him.

I too, look forward to that day, don’t you? Can you picture it in your minds eye?

Take a moment and imagine it... you are kneeling before Jesus. As you are bowed in worship, He gently reaches out to you, puts His hand under your chin and lifts your gaze to look into His eyes, He astonishes you by placing a crown on your head. It is the reward given to the faithful who have stayed focused on Jesus.

In response, you take off the crown Jesus gave you and cast it at His feet, acknowledging that your greatest reward is the reward He receives from those who are gathered to worship Him. It is the fruit of your labors on earth that will follow you into heaven.

It is this vision of the future that sustains us in the present.

The Fruit of Your Labors Will Follow You - Part One

RobertMorrison My wife, Sally, and I visited the cemetery in Macau, China, where Robert Morrison and his first wife, Mary, are buried. Robert Morrison was the first Protestant missionary to China. He lived 52 short years and died in Canton in 1834.

During his twenty-five years of work as a missionary he translated the whole Bible into the Chinese language and baptized ten Chinese believers. Today there are an estimated 180 million Chinese followers of Jesus Christ – amazing fruit for a man who only baptized 10 converts in his lifetime.

Robert Morrison focused on Jesus his whole life. Just Jesus. During the 27 years he served in China he kept his focus on Jesus. He went home on furlough only once in all those years.

When Robert Morrison was asked, shortly after his arrival in China, if he expected to have any spiritual impact on the Chinese... his answer was:  “No sir, but I expect God will!”

He did what he did for Jesus. He knew there was no other cause worthy of the sacrifices he was to make – and he made some big ones.

Part of the inscription on his tombstone reads,  “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord...that they may rest from their labors and their works shall follow them.”

Robert Morrison’s works followed him – 180 million people in China are following him to heaven. It all began with him going to China as an act of devotion to Jesus.

Suppose it was your tombstone in that cemetery in Macau. How would you want it to be inscribed?

I have often pictured myself watching my own funeral service, wondering what I would like people to say about me after I am gone. Sometimes I even write my own epitaph. This is not morbid preoccupation with myself, as strange as it sounds, but rather a way to stay focused on what is most important to live for while I’m still here. It is my way of finding focus in the midst of many competing passions.

We were created to live for something greater than ourselves, and only in Jesus will we find that “something.”  Only by focusing on Jesus will our works follow us to heaven.

Take time now... choose a few phrases you want spoken about you when your family and friends gather to celebrate your life.  Write them down. Reflect on them. Now, with this fresh focus, go back into the race of life and give your heart to that which you want to follow you when you die.