In this post, I want to share some simple truths with you that if understood and put into practice will give your walk with God and your work for God a total make-over; a new lease on life and ministry.
In one sense, what I’m about to say is not strictly about leadership, but in another sense it’s all about leadership,because the foundation we lay in our lives as leaders will impact everything else that happens in us and through us.
In Luke’s account of what has been called, “The Sermon on the Mount” we read:
“So why do you keep calling me Lord, Lord when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it.
It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well build. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:46-49 NLT)
If one thing has become clear to me over the years, it’s that many, if not most, leaders don’t finish well. There are a variety of reasons for this, but one of the most prominent ones is that they build their lives on something other than Jesus and his gospel. They build on being popular, well thought of, having a spectacular and famous ministry. They build on their own egos and selfish ambition (James 3:14). They build on their personalities, their gifts, their ability to make things happen and with great fanfare. But in many cases it’s all sinking sand as the old hymn puts it.
In this familiar, simple but profoundly impactful passage, I see three key truths as to what kind of foundation we, as leaders, need to build on so that when the storms of life hit (and they will hit) we stand firm on a solid and sure foundation.
1. Come to Jesus regularly
There are so many voices screaming at us today. Come here, come there, come and do this, come and do that, come and buy this, come and buy that. Jesus is the one we need to come to, and and come to regularly.
It’s so hard to be consistent in coming; day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Charles Swindoll said, “The problem with life is that it’s so daily.”
One of the ways we can come to Jesus regularly is by spending intentional, focused time alone with him. Sitting at his feat like Mary, not rushing about worrying and fretting like Martha, which many of us are prone to do. I want to learn be more like Mary (resting) and less like Martha (rushing)
We can of course come to him spontaneously and often during the day through prayer, confession, thanksgiving, adoration & repentance. But in addition to that, I’ve found no substitute for deliberately carving out a set and predetermined time each day to come to him and sit at his feet like Mary did and drink in his presence and the wonderful truths of the gospel I so desperately need to hear.
2. Listen to Jesus carefully
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and distinctly got the feeling that they were hearing you but not really listening to you. Wives accuse their husbands of not really listening, teen-agers don’t think their parents ever really listen to them and truly try to understand them.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear”
~Luke 8:8 ESV
I can come to him and yet not truly listen to him. You know, in one ear and out the other sort of thing. When he speaks, whispers in my ear, communicates something extremely important, am I truly, really listening? Am I eager to hear him, pay attention to what he is saying, or is my mind and my schedule so hurried and packed with precious little quiteness and solitude that I hear very little of what he is saying?
3. Respond to Jesus faithfully
God initiates and we respond by his grace and with his power.
I’m not talking about responding perfectly every time, but genuinely and honestly.
“His mother said to the servants, do whatever he tells you”
~John 2:5 ESV
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them”
~John 13:17 ESV
The blessing, the fruit, the growth in your walk with Jesus, and in his work through you, is not a result of what you hear, know, or even understand, but a result of what you do with what hear, know and understand.
“Oh that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him, and he will respond to us as surely as the coming of dawn, or the rain of early spring.”
~Hosea 6:3 LB
Fellow leader, may I be so bold as to ask you what kind of foundation you are truly building life and ministry on? Is it being built on your relationship with Jesus and what he is teaching you, or are you building on something else that will end up being sinking sand and causing your house to “collapse into a heap of ruins.”
Lord, have mercy on us!