Allen Jackson - Leading In Two Worlds - Part 2
So let's take a few minutes and talk about some components of leadership in the spiritual arena. There's a lot of good counsel in Scripture. It's not always exciting. You gotta keep your focus on that therefore part, what God's gonna do. I would say the Lord added some fruitfulness to Paul's life, wouldn't you? Two millennia after he's gone, he's still talking to the church. And we think your life would might work out okay if two millennia after you're gone, you're still providing coaching to the Christians. Yeah, I think that'd be all right. Well, in Matthew 20, Jesus gives us a component. The disciples are having an argument. You gotta love them. Two of the disciples have come and asked for privileged treatment. They want to sit on either side of Jesus and his throne.
"When the ten heard about this, they were indignant". You think? So Jesus calls them together. Can you see him? "Come over here, fellas. Come on. Peter, will you get over here? You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. But not with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave. Just as the Son of Man didn't come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many". You see, serving the Lord, there is an emptying of your life. I'm not saying you don't take care of yourself. Don't take it to a destructive place. But I'm telling you, my understanding of Jesus's teaching is that serving the Lord does not lead with me first. People matter and that takes daily attention on my part.
If you want to be great, Jesus said it, you have to become a servant. How many of you'd like Jesus to look at your life and go, "That was great, that was an amazing performance, good job"? Yeah. Remember the Roman Centurion that came to Jesus and said, "I need your help"? Remember that story? And Jesus said, "Okay, I'll come pray for your servant". And all the Jewish audiences, just their brains are fried. He didn't have to help him. I mean, Jesus looked at the Syrophoenician woman and said, "I'm not helping you. I don't take the children's bread and give it to the dogs". Oh, but he didn't say that to the centurion. He said, "Yeah, I'll come help you". It's the town where he's ministering. There's a lot of political tension. "I'll come help you". And the centurion meets him 'cause they've interceded. They're asking Jesus to go. It'll be better for everybody if he helps this guy.
And the centurion comes, says, "Listen, don't come to my house. I don't deserve to have you come. I understand authority. You've got authority over sickness and disease. You just say the word". Remember what it says? It says Jesus was amazed. He was amazed. He turned and said, "I haven't found faith like this anywhere in town". Then they got mad at Jesus. Live in such a way that when you see the Lord, he'll say, "Amazing". Don't say, "Well, you know, I went to that church quite a bit". Start to put it in here. You're gonna see him one day. Amazing. Good job. So proud of you. Awesome! We're gonna see the Lord! We are. Come on. We've had this back, "Well, how much do I have to do? Oh, geez. Is he gonna go long again? Can't we get him a timer"? I want him to be amazed. So, if you want a great life, practice your serve.
Look at John 13: "When he'd finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place". He's about to be tortured to death, and he's washing their feet. "'Do you understand what I've done?' he asked them". What's the answer? No. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for I am. But now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another's. I've set you an example that you should do as I have done. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. And now that you know these things, you'll be blessed if you do them". Where's the blessing? In obedience. Jesus, again, he's showing us this servant leader thing.
Again, it's not that you serve everybody, but you're willing to serve whomever whenever he directs you to. And if you're sitting up in the bleachers watching other people, saying they're not good servants, you've missed the point of the story. I'm not sure who made the decision that in church world, we should all be Olympic judges. You know, it seems to me that we've kind of adopted the model in the church world that we have with professional sports. And we put tens of thousands of people that are significantly overweight in the stadium and fill their hands with all sorts of unhealthy foods while we scream at people who are in tremendous shape that they should hustle. Right? You get mad at them. "Can you believe that"? And then we complain that they get paid too much. We've kind of embraced that model. We're waiting for somebody to be more anointed.
How about you fast and pray until the people that are leading wherever you're standing find a new anointing? That would change the dynamic. That would change the dynamic. So Jesus says we're servant leaders but then he said, "When you choose what you serve, you choose the limits of your life". This intrigues me. We're talking about leading in two worlds. If your master is something that's temporary, the limit on your life sets an artificial limit because when time is over, everything you've achieved is gonna evaporate. If you choose Jesus as Lord, the limit in your life is the eternal kingdom of God, so all of a sudden the potential of your life is exponentially ramped up. You can be the richest man in the world and when your clock runs out, you're just another face in eternity. Or you could lead a life that Jesus said was a great life, and Almighty God will reward you for it.
You see, what you choose as Lord of your life, what you put in that uppermost place of decision making, then it's easy to do. When you're setting the priorities for your time, your treasure, your talent, what's the governing board for that? What's your decision criteria? If they're coming from the Word of God and the counsel of Scripture and you're serving the Lord, then you've got this eternal limit. If you're setting your goals and bars by the ones that the secular world is setting, you've chosen another limit for your life. And then Jesus says, he says it in the plainest of, you'll be blessed if you do them, not if you know them, not if you study them, not if you have a seminar on them, not if you write a paper about them, not if you have a library filled with books about it, if you do it. Just go find a way. Start where you are. Go to work tomorrow and find a way to practice serving in a way you didn't today.
Listen to somebody you wouldn't have listened to today. You don't have to listen for an hour, listen for 60 seconds. Just focus your attention on them for 60 seconds. When you get done, "Oh, let's pray. Lord, help my friend, amen". "What happened to you? You never prayed for me before". "Yeah, I went to church last night". You can do this. We're gonna learn to lead in a new way with a new intentionality, with a new tenacity because we desperately need a new outcome. We're waiting for somebody else to do this. Folks, it's us. Matthew 18, Jesus is still coaching us. How much time have I got? "At that time the disciples came to Jesus". They've got a little focus on this. "Who's the greatest in the kingdom of heaven"? Jesus calls a little child and had him stand among them. And he said, "I tell you the truth".
You know by now, right? He's getting ready to rock their world. "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you'll never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me". One characteristic of our congregation, since its inception until today, has been an attempt to welcome children. We haven't always had the best and I'm sure we haven't always done it the best, but we have done our best to try that. And we're not done with that. "Whoever welcomes a little child, my name welcomes me. If anyone causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea".
You know, people say to me, "Jesus is all about love. I just like to read my New Testament 'cause Jesus is about love". Anybody ever, you heard that? "I don't like reading the Old Testament, God's grumpy". I've heard people stand in here and say that once. Jesus just said, "If you cause a child to lose their momentum with me, your best option is to find a big rock, a short rope, and deep water". That's pretty harsh. He said, "You would rather face that than me". So I watch what's being done to children. It has my attention. I'm gonna use my voice. I'm gonna say, "No, no, that's not right". Don't try to confuse them about things that are not confusing. Don't subject them to things that they're not emotionally or mentally ready to be subjected to. Don't you manipulate those children. It's not just about my children. It's about the children. Don't you do that. Don't you do that.
This isn't about some incremental response. This isn't a 20-year plan. I'm telling you, don't do that. We've been way too casual with our children. We're far more interested in them having the life experiences we want them to have, or the life opportunities we want them to have, than we are protecting them from ungodliness. There's things more dangerous than white sugar. And I'm for a healthy diet. Depths of the sea, verse 7, "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come"! Again, we're leading in these two rounds, remember? "See that you don't look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven".
Again, if you want to be great in the kingdom of heaven, and I hope you do, stop with the false humility. I didn't sign up to be a Christ follower so I could be a mediocre one. I didn't sign up to serve those so I could just get by. "You know, I just want to somehow". No, I want to give my best to the Lord in all of my brokenness, in all my inconsistencies, in all of the warts and the flaws that I'm dragging along that he's helping me with. I intend to get caught trying to do my best for the Lord. Do I always? No, but I'm working on it. I want to be better at it next month than I was last month. It's important to me. I hope that's an agenda in your heart.
I really don't like the way we have presented our faith that you kind of secure your eternity and then you don't have to worry about it anymore. That's a very, very deceptive thing, destructive thing. And I don't want you to live in fear of your salvation, but I don't want you to live presumptively either. Kingdom greatness. Be childlike, not childish. We've done enough childish. Come on. We could all tell our stories, right? We've had enough experience with childish Christianity. And then Jesus gives these warnings and then this statement of woe. The warnings is you need to treat the children well. You need to be concerned about them. But the statement of woe isn't a warning, it's a pronouncement of judgment. When Jesus says, "Woe," he's telling you what judgment is going to come upon.
We're talking about leadership concepts and biblically an important concept or principle around this is generosity, and I don't mean initially your money. Look in John 3:16. "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life". How are we to understand God's love? The Bible never gives us an explanation for why God loves humanity. When the angels rebelled, Jesus didn't identify as an angel to redeem the angels. But when Adam and Eve sinned, God immediately said, "I have a rescue plan for you". And the only word that's accurate in Scripture for that was God's love. It's never defined, it's expressed in his action that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. What's the depth of his love? What's the expression of his love? He gave the most precious thing he had.
That's what Romans 8 said: if God didn't spare his Son, but if he offered him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? And we get all heated up. "Are you one of those people to think God wants to bless us"? Well, I'm thinking if he offered Jesus on the cross to help me out, he's probably okay with me being okay. So generosity is a characteristic that God demonstrated towards us, and as his character is formed in us, we will demonstrate towards others. John 10, and verse 17, "The reason my Father loves me," this is Jesus, "is that I lay down my life, only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father". "They're gonna come arrest me," Jesus said, "but I'm gonna give my life to them. They're not taking me any place I don't want to go. The high priest is gonna slap me, but he's only gonna slap me because I'm gonna let him. And the soldiers will beat me almost beyond recognition. They'll blindfold me and hit me over the head and say, 'Tell us who hit you.' And I'll be quiet 'cause I have to fulfill all righteousness".
Is it fair to call that a generous spirit? How many times has that thing in me said, "You better defend yourself"? That comes to me pretty easy. You push me, I'll push you harder. That comes to me easy. You knock me down, I will bust you. That comes to me pretty easy. I'm not saying we always have to be passive, we have to be led by the Spirit. I'm not coaching you to be violent. John 15, "Greater love has no one than this, that he laid down his life for his friends". See, I think the big picture invitation here is to be generous with our time, to be generous with our attention, to be generous with our effort. That's what serving is. I'll make as great of an effort in serving others as I will make an effort to get the things that I want. I'll give sacrificially of my time. Eventually, yeah, I do think it affects how you deal with stuff because money and things are such an important part of our lives. But if you start with that, you'll miss it.
If you haven't learned to be generous with your money yet, that is a learned thing and it is a component of discipleship. But I wouldn't lead with it, but you don't want to avoid it. The Bible talks about giving in two general categories, tithes and offerings. The tithe is a tenth, and I believe that first tenth belongs to the Lord. It's not even ours. When we give that, we're not giving something to the Lord. That tenth is his. And it's really not even mine a thing that I offer to the Lord. And then when I want to give, if I want to be generous, I give beyond my tithe. If that's a new idea to you, talk to the Lord, ask him. And you listen to what he says with you and you cooperate. I trust him with that. You know the tithe was not a preacher's idea. We would have never left it at 10%, right?
Church is 2.000 years old. You know we'd have jacked that thing up, right? Come on. We'd at least have a sliding scale or something, I mean, human nature and all. But generosity. My time's up. We want to learn to lead well, and we want to learn to lead in some new ways. And I say that because our past patterns have not been adequate. COVID recalibrated everything. It's recalibrated some things in a negative way. We could talk about that almost ad nauseam, but I believe it's gonna recalibrate some things in a positive way. We've baptized more people since COVID than in any equivalent season in the history of the church, we have. We had Character Quest in that summer of 2020, and everybody stayed healthy. We'll have more children in camp this summer than in any year in the history of the church. Yeah, yay God. We'll have more volunteers serving with them. We'll serve more sandwiches and cook more muffins than we've ever cooked.
You know, so there's recalibrations. It's easy to see the negative, but I believe God is recalibrating. And so I'm saying, hey, Lord, I want to be in on that. I want to respond in some new ways. I want to serve in some new ways. I want to raise my game. I want to live a life that's great in your estimation. I don't want a mediocre spiritual life. I don't want to just get by and get through and somehow get across the finish line. I want you, when you see me, to go, "Really well done. Come on! We've been waiting for you to get here. We've been so excited about that".
That's a whole lot better than you walk through, Peter goes, "Can you believe he made it? There were some serious questions about you". Serving the Lord is not a burden. Where did that come from? Saying no to ungodliness is not some incursion on you. It's a deliverance from destruction. And if it's stuck in your head that saying no to ungodliness is robbing you of something, get on your knees and stay there until it breaks in your head. Righteousness exalts a nation, and sin is a disgrace. They may not be asking on our opinion, as far as the nation goes, but this is where we are. We can start to develop our opinion and have a faith conversation, amen. I'll hush. I wanna pray for you.
Why don't you stand with me? Oh, I thank God for you. I've spent some time lately with other churches and pastors, and I thank God for you. You are precious. You are precious in the sight of the Lord, and God is doing something in you. I can't wait to watch what he's gonna do. You keep saying yes to him, just quietly, persistently in the midst of your routine, in the midst of your habits, in the midst of your responsibilities. Be careful to say no to ungodliness. You know it when you see it. You don't have to have it explained. Have the courage to say, "No, no, no, no, no". And just watch what the Lord's gonna do.
Father, thank you for your Word, for its truth and power and authority. We stand in your presence because we have a desire to be pleasing before you. Holy Spirit, help us. Give us understanding hearts. Give us discernment beyond our experience, that we not just watch and fail to understand, but may we see and know. And we understand our times in such a way that we can stand in the places you ask us to stand and say the things you ask us to say and pray the prayers you have created us to pray. Deliver us from evil. Guide us in your pathway. Holy Spirit, help us. In Jesus's name, amen.