Follow The Leader, And Lead The Followers
Life is constantly teaching lessons through experiences. I believe this is how the Lord designed it. I can look back on some of the toughest situations Ive been through in life and see God using it to reveal to me something about himself. Things that I would have never known had I not been given the privilege to make mistakes, and to learn from them. Because even the faintest ray of light can best be seen in the dark. Its in those moments where we fall short that God reveal’s himself to us in extraordinary ways. We just have to be willing to take our focus off of feeling sorry for ourselves, and look for what the Lord may be trying to reveal to us.
I can think back ten years ago to a time in my own life that seemed black as night, but God used to mirror Himself. I had just quit my job as a radio DJ in Destin Florida. I loved this profession, but Lacy was pregnant with our first child, and wanting to better my family, I had decided to take a job as the director of a church television ministry that paid more money. The job description was to oversee television production of their Sunday morning services, and to edit the video’s of the church. I had been working with radio editing equipment and had no experience with television editing. But I paid little mind to the job description. I had dollar signs clouding my vision. I figured that editing radio couldnt be that much different than editing television. So I told the church that I was the man for the job and I began work the following week.
A few days into my new job as television director at this church, I realized two things very quickly. The first was that editing television and radio were nothing alike. And the second thing I realized, was that I was not a television editor. I didnt have the skills or desire to run a television ministry. The job was more demanding and had more of a learning curve that I was prepared for. I had read the job description, but had signed on in too much haste, not counting the costs and taking the time to research what would really be asked of me. The rewards of the job were great, but the demands were much more than I was ready for. Needless to say, I left my job as a television minister within a few months. And the lesson I learned from this experience was to always read the job description, and to count the costs before signing on.
The final words spoken from the lips of our Lord before ascending into Heaven was a charge to his followers to make disciples. The men who followed Jesus while he was on earth, the twelve, were called His disciples. The conclusion we can easily draw is that in order for someone to make disciples, they must first be a disciple. So again, following this logical line of reasoning, if we claim to be a Christian, then in essence, we are claiming to be a disciple of Christ. Because you can’t be a follower without being a disciple. So before we commit to following Jesus and defining ourselves with the label of ‘Christian’, dont you think we should go over the job description of just what what is required of a disciple of Christ? What does the job of disciple entail? Well, to know this, we must define what a disciple is. A online dictionary defines disciple like this…..
“Dis-ci-ple: One who embraces and assist in the spreading of the teachings of another.“
A one line job description, but lets look at what we can draw out of this definition. We notice two things right away. The first is that a disciple is one who embraces the teachings of another. So we can ascertain that a disciple of Christ would be one who is in agreement with the teachings of the Bible. He or she would be one who places themselves under the word of God regularly and not only hears, but embraces, or takes to heart the teachings of Jesus. When we embrace something, it usually becomes a part of us, therefore we live it out. This seems like an easy task. No one would argue that they were a true follower of Jesus if they didnt agree with and apply to their lives the teachings of God.
But look at the second part of the definition. It says a disciple is also one who assist in spreading the teachings that they have embraced. This takes the job description to a whole new level. So we are not only to place ourselves under the word on a regular basis, but we are in turn to become teachers of the word! In short, we are to become leaders! So what does this mean? Does this mean that if we are not actively being leaders for Jesus and sharing our faith, that we are not disciples? Well let me try to answer that question with another question. Can there be any such things as an in the closet Christian? Is it possible to follow Jesus and never let the outside world know where you stand? Is it possible to love Jesus yet not obey his job description? Lets let scripture answer.
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commanded the twelve to go and make disciples of all nations. They were to go to the ends of the earth and make followers of Jesus. If I were a salesman for a top sporting goods company, and my boss told me to go and recruit others to sign on and be salesmen for the company, do you think if I just wore a t shirt with the company logo many people would come to me and ask how they might work for the company? Of course not. I would have to actively approach others and tell them about the benefits of working for this company and let them know that I wanted them to join the team! Using the same example, in trying to get others to become salesmen for this company, do you think I would be successful in reaching people if I just sat in board meetings all day long, never sharing with others what Ive learned?
We cannot make be obedient to Jesus and make disciples by simple saying, “Well Ill reach others by the example I set in everyday life.” The job description is to make disciples. The job description is to LEAD others to Christ. And we cannot call ourselves disciples of Christ if all we do is go to church and never strive to become leaders of our faith to our peers. You see learning and sitting up under the word without any action in our lives is not Christianity and is falling short of the job description. Do you need proof?
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. ” John 5:39.
One must weigh the cost in coming to Jesus, because in coming to him, you must be willing to follow him in obedience. Knowledge of the scriptures doesnt bring eternal life. The religious leaders Jesus was speaking to in the above verse were men who scholars say would have had the first five books of the old testament, the Torah, memorized. Right there, I can personally say they have learned more memory verses than I have. Yet they didnt follow Jesus. Therefore they couldnt lead people to him, because they were not chasing after him.
John 14:21 Jesus says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Luke 6:26 says, “Why do you call me Lord and not do as I command?”
If you are a follower of Jesus, and you are sincere in saying you love him, you will obey his commandments. And to those who claim to be Christians but do not adhere to his job descriptions, he basically says in Luke 6:46, “Im not your Lord as you are saying, because you dont do as I command.” Is it possible to be a Christian who follows their whole life? The apostle Paul said it like this…
In addressing the church in Corinth, he said this to them….
“I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,” 1 Corinthians 3:2.
He was trying to raise up leaders, yet frustrated that they were still acting like spiritual infants. The writer of Hebrews ran into the same problems…
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,” Hebrews 5:12.
This verse is so powerful. He says that by now they should be teaching the word, but they are still acting like an infant who cannot eat solid food. I heard a pastor put it like this one time. He said, “Who in this room would be disturbed by a thirty year old man still breast feeding from his mother? How do you think God feels when he sees Christians who have fed on his word for years and are still in their spiritual cribs? Sadly, our churches are filled with these types of people. They want to call themselves a disciple of Jesus, but are not prepared for the workload that comes with that particular job description. A person who doesnt eventually follow in Jesus footsteps and begin to lead others to Christ can no more claim to be a true follower of Jesus than a radio DJ claiming to be a television editor.
Thats why Jesus warns new converts to count the costs of following Him. If it was as easy as professing him as Lord with our lips and going to church weekly, why would there be any reason for Peter to warn us to count the cost before making the decision? The reason is because Jesus knew what would happen. That if people didnt fully understand the job requirements of being a Christ follower, then they would profess him with their lips but contradict their claim with their lives.
“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.” Luke 14:25-35.
When the large crowds followed Jesus, He didnt say to them, “If you want to follow me, all you have to do is walk down the aisle, say a prayer, and try to go to church. Try to be good, but if you fall short, just say your sorry and try not to do it again. ”
How easy that would be to follow Jesus if those were the only requirements. Say a prayer, go to church when I feel like it, and an invitation to the “All You Can Eat Sin Buffet”, just as long as I ask forgiveness when Im done. How easy it would be to follow Jesus. Why would I count the cost…because a Christianity like this would cost me nothing!
But Jesus paints a different picture. Jesus says (paraphrased), “Oh you want to follow me? Then its going to cost you everything.” The first job requirement Jesus lists for being His disciple is to hate your family! And to be willing to bear persecution (bear your cross.) Now we know that Jesus doesnt want us to really hate our family, but rather our devotion and love for him should so superseded that which we have for our families that in comparison it looks like hate.
And I love the example Jesus gives of counting the costs. Who would build a house before first estimating the costs of supplies it would take to build it? If you didnt first count the cost, you would eventually quit building. If you were going to war, who first wouldnt count the cost to see if you had the resources to win the battle? In your Christian life, have you really counted those same costs? Are you striving to become a leader for Christ, or are you content to stay an adult still stuck on drinking milk from a bottle? A disciple is not only a follower, but is required to be a leader. The disciple follows after Christ, but leads others to him. If you are not leading, then you are not following.
Jesus says in Luke 14:34 that salt is good, but if it loses its flavor, then its no good. If your walk with Christ is one where you are not going to raise up others, then you are not growing. And if you are not growing, many of us should be embarrassed that we are still in the nursing stage of our spiritual walks despite that we have been going to church for years. What example do we see in scripture? Men who from the outside would never be qualified as leaders by the world.
Look at Peter and John in acts. Two of the twelve disciples of Christ. These men were ordinary men. Fishermen. No formal schooling. They may not have even been able to read very well. Yet they stood in front of the religious leaders and amazed them with their confidence in proclaiming Jesus as messiah.
“The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures.” Acts 4:13.
Isnt it funny how in our world today, Christians will use every excuse as to why they cant lead for Christ. We tend to have this idea that in order for us to be leaders for Jesus, that we have to be theological experts. Yet the scriptures paint a different picture. We see men who had no theological training in the scriptures, but knew Jesus as Lord. And based on that, they spoke the truth boldly in the face or constant rejection.
I cant count the number of times Ive challenged men to become leaders and teachers for Jesus, and they’ve told me that they were not eloquent with words and couldnt talk in front of people. Moses gave this very excuse to God when the Lord told him to lead the people out of Egypt.
“Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
If you have ever used this rebuttal so that you could justify living a Christianity that doesnt speak out for Jesus, God totally takes that excuse away from you. Look how God responds to Moses….
11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:10–11.
Basically, ‘Close your mouth and quit your crying Moses.”Imagine if Moses had just lived his faith and never begun to lead? Imagine if Paul had quietly believed in Jesus but never preached. Imagine if the disciples had said they were not knowledgeable to be used of God. Our society has watered down scriptures so much that we’ve made Christianity into Bible studies and church events. Real Christianity will always cost us! Real men and women who are not brave need not apply! Ive yet to find the example in scripture of someone who met Jesus and then lived just lived out their faith! Quite the opposite! Those who met Jesus were so excited that they couldnt contain themselves!! They had to speak out, even in the face of rejection. The promise of eternal life is very enticing. Who wouldnt want that? But we exchange our earthly comforts for our Heavenly home. A disciple of Jesus Christ leads, because leading is for making disciples.