Imperative People


"Another way to describe the religious leaders of Jesus’ day would be “imperative.” Imperative people must be in control. The Pharisees who confronted the lame man who Jesus healed on the Sabbath are a prime example. Imperative people:

  • Are uncomfortable with people whose ideas are different from their own
  • Have an inborn craving for control
  • Are driven by duty
  • Hate to admit they are wrong
  • Get irritated when people make “mistakes”
  • Do important jobs themselves because someone else might not do them right
  • Create dependency on themselves
  • Act superior but feel inferior

The Jewish leaders who opposed the paralytic that Jesus healed were concerned with only two things: conformity and control. It didn’t matter to them that a lame man was healed. Their petty concern was that he was carrying his bed on the Sabbath.

It’s as if they were saying, “Shame on you, healed man. Wait until tomorrow to be excited. Don’t carry your bed now that you can walk...just lay there and be calm!”

Obviously, these imperative people were not focused on the right thing. They were more concerned with their petty religious traditions than the joy of a man whose lame legs were made whole. 
They followed the “letter of the law,” but disregarded the Spirit of Truth. They read God’s Word but had no understanding of its true meaning. The Scriptures were a pretext for them to control and manipulate others.

One of the greatest challenges you will face as a leader is imperative people who don’t want to yield their supremacy over a church, school, classroom, or work department. Imperative people feel strongly obligated to direct the behavior of other people - beyond their mandate. They have an inner need to command, to exhort, or direct the lives of others. Imperative people are a bane to leaders who want to get things done for God.

When Jesus healed the lame man, He modeled acting according to the motive behind all biblical truth - God’s love for us. 
The Pharisees, and many Evangelical Christians still today, fall 
into the trap of trying to follow the letter of truth; they try to obey the Bible without fathoming the love of the One who gave us the Bible. Perhaps worse yet, they issue judgment when others do not act in accordance with their personal interpretation of biblical truths.

When more weight is given to literal interpretation of the words written to convey biblical truth than the intent of the One who gave us that truth, it ends up being more man-centered than God-centered. Obeying the letter of the law is a matter of physical action, but obeying the Spirit of Truth requires more than just outward action - it involves a loving attitude of the heart and mind.

To refrain from adultery is obedience to the letter of the law, but to exercise restraint in one’s thought life is obedience to the Spirit of Truth (e.g., not lusting in one’s heart for another man’s wife, or any woman or man for that matter).

Great leaders don’t try to monitor or control the behavior of their followers according to the letter of the law. Instead, they seek to motivate obedience from the heart by equipping people to act as independent adults, not dependent children. Healthy, independent adults can think for themselves; children need their parents to think for them.

The teachings of Jesus are revolutionary because He taught obedience to the Spirit of Truth. He didn’t annul the Ten Commandments, He expanded them, revealing their spiritual intent. He didn’t annul the law against murder, but taught us not to hate or judge others from the heart.

In the same Spirit as Jesus, mature spiritual leaders empower their people to look at problems from a biblical perspective, then spiritually discern the intended application of biblical truth for those specific circumstances. The best teacher in town is not a human being, but the Holy Spirit. As leaders, our followers have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit within them, the Spirit of Truth, to teach and guide them as they apply biblical truths to their lives.

My father used to say to me, “Son, if you are going to get on your knees to pray through your conviction about something, stay there long enough to get that conviction for yourself and not everyone else!”

Though I grew up surrounded by imperative people in our conservative Evangelical church, I am so thankful my dad was mature enough to see through the superficial religious veneer of many of his peers.

Dad fought his way through the rubbish of imperative religion to find a deeply felt, but lovingly held, set of convictions. He was beloved as a pastor because he was not judgmental when parishioners came to him about an alcohol problem or confessed that their daughter was on drugs. Dad was deeply compassionate when a single mother was overwhelmed and depressed by the burdens of caring for two or three children alone. Dad had convictions, deeply held biblical convictions, but he held them with love. He gave others space to come to their own beliefs.

To apply these truths to my own life, I had to learn the difference between following the letter of the law versus the Spirit of Truth. It means being flexible rather than rigid; being a person of conviction, but not imposing your convictions on others. It means giving others freedom to apply biblical truth for themselves - with loving accountability.

Most of us have some imperative characteristics. It becomes a weakness when we allow them to disrupt our relationships with family, business associates, and friends. When that happens, we need to back off and learn how to keep a potential strength - leading with conviction - from becoming a damaging weakness.

To live in freedom, imperative people must yield to these truths:

  • God is absolute, we are not. Give others space to come to their own convictions.
  • We are not responsible for people, God is. Trust the Holy Spirit to correct, convict, and guide others.
  • Cultivating relationships is more important than being right. Live from the inside out, not the outside in (i.e., from the heart, not the head).

Freedom is the key word here. Imperative people have to learn to allow others to be themselves, and - this is sometimes even more difficult - to allow themselves to relax and simply be themselves. 
Freedom from being an imperative leader means influencing others without controlling them. There is a time and place to clarify expectations and commitments, but there is a line between doing that and becoming the religious police. It means cultivating contentment in your heart about your convictions and allowing others the same freedom.

If you recognize imperative tendencies in yourself, here are some steps you can take toward freedom:

  • Identify any controlling or judgmental inclinations you might harbor and humbly acknowledge them to others.
  • Understand how the drive to control others has worked in your life to the detriment of others.
  • Yield to God’s change in your life through repentance, confession, and forgiveness.

If you would like to read the other 39 Chapters of my new book, Leading Like Jesus, you can find it on Amazon here.  Or you can buy a paperback copy form YWAM Publishing here.

Quite Time Religion

Here is a thought going through my head this morning, "What religiondoes not allow, grace does". 
I was speaking to someone recently about their struggles with their "quiettime". It struck me while we were talking that the goal of quiet times is not quiet times, but conversation with a person, with God. It's speaking to someone, and allowing them to speak as well. It's about relationship.
I don't know about you, but i don't approach talking with friends with a need for emotional connection or a huge sense of intimacy. I don't approach friendships in terms of duty to be together, but in delight in hanging out, catching up, sharing story, connecting with someone I enjoy. I don't place a burden on others to meet a need or give me some huge emotional lift. I spend time with people for the value of being with them, and allow the relationship to be what it is.
The goal of spending time with God is not found in how much emotional intimacy we feel, but in simply being with him. I approach being with my wife the same way... we just enjoy each other's company, sometimes laughter, sometimes sadness, sometimes just sitting together without talking, sometimes sharing our hearts very deeply... we talk while driving together, we talk over meals, we make dates to hang out without interruption, we turn off the phones, and give attention to each other. And if we get busy, then we go out of our way to make sure we havetime to talk and be together.
It's about relationship, not religious duty. The same applies to our relationship with God.
I can tell you what happens if Sally and I don't have time together... we grow apart. We get disconnected. Hurts turn into offenses. Little things become big things.
Communication fosters deeper relationship with my wife, not an emotional relationship, but just pure relationship, sometimes with emotion sometimes not. It causes our hearts to stay connected, for trust to grow, for affection and commitment to be strengthened.
Spending time with Jesus is the same for me... it is not a thing to do, but someone to talk to. 
If this is true, then spending time with Jesus counts whenever it happens, any time of the day, any posture, any moment... walking, shopping, driving, it all counts! 
Growing, healthy relationships are intentional. If you want your relationship with someone to grow, then you get intentional about meeting up, about sharing dreams and disappointments. The same is true of our relationship with God. 
So let's chuck quiet time religion, as in the duty to do something to please God, and focus on talking to God, on speaking to him as a friend. Focus on the pure value of talking to him about burdens, about joys, and the about the things that burden or distress us. Tell him everything...
Does that mean there is no need to set aside time on a regular basis to read the Bible and pray? Not at all... it will enhance your relationship actually. Be intentional about being spontaneous.
The big bonus is grace. There is an impartation of God's grace that happens when we are intentional about being with God, about accepting his offer to give himself to us. So ask freely, and receive freely. If we love it when friends ask us for advice, for help, how much more does God delight in us when we ask him?
It's about grace flowing down...covering our sins, covering our fears and failures. Let it flow... ask for it, any time and all the time. When you shower or bathe and dress for the day. When you eat food. When you are driving or walking. Be intentional but don't be religious.
Remember, grace allows what religion does not. 
John's gospel says, "Of his fullness have we all received, grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth through Jesus Christ". John 1:16
Make it a receiving day today! Be intentional but not religious.
God bless,


Is Jesus the Only Way to God?


Is Jesus the Only Way to God?


1. Jesus is a unique and special revelation of God to humankind. He loves all peoples and will reject no one who comes to him sincerely. God welcomes every person to seek him and to pray to him. He lovingly draws every person to His son, Jesus Christ.

2. Jesus did not come to start a religion called Christianity. He came to stop religion, not start it. Religion is what people do to gain God’s favor or approval in their own way. Jesus is God's way of seeking for people, to offer His acceptance and forgiveness to them

3. There are many ways to God, but they all lead to's as if there are many roads to the top of a mountain, but when people arrive at the top of the mountain, they find Jesus waiting for them with open arms.

4. God will not judge people for rejecting a Jesus they have never heard of.

5. God judges people on the basis of what truth they know and what they do with it. God shines truth into every human heart, and then watches to see if people respond to that light. Those who follow the light they have, are given more.

6. God is a loving and just. The Bible speaks of God as the judge of all the earth. Abraham said about God, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do what is right?” God knows the hearts of all people. We can trust him to judge people justly and truthfully.

7. God has revealed aspects of himself in every civilization and every culture. It is as if there is a shadow that falls on every religion and civilization, and when one follows that shadow, it leads to the person of Jesus Christ.

8. Jesus made claims about himself (recorded for us in the New Testament), claims that are so unique, that if they are not true, then Jesus cannot be dismissed as a good man gone wrong, but more like a deceiver or deranged mad man. Either he is the truth, or he is liar or a myth created by others.

9. Jesus has revealed himself in such a way that no one is forced to believe him or obey him, but for those who sincerely want to know if he is who he claimed to be, there is sufficient evidence to know he is the Son of God.

10. If you want to know for yourself, the best way to be sure is to read about his life and teachings in the New Testament. If you seek to know him sincerely, and are willing to obey Him, God promises to reveal the truth to all those who seek Him.