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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Leadership Lessons From Life - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Leadership Lessons From Life - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Leadership Lessons From Life - Part 2
TOPICS: Leadership

I want to take the minutes we've got left and share with you some of my observations from camp. As I walked around campus last week and listened to the kids and watched what was happening and interacted with the parents, there were some things that, to me, were very much a part of that camp experience but also seemed to be very much a part of our community experience as we grow and lead in our faith. We're going to have to lead with our faith. Leading from behind is nonsense. That's another day. And one thing I observed was this dynamic and the tension that exists between old friends and new friends. We like our old friends better because the new faces really aren't friends. We just call 'em friends, because this is the South, and we're too polite to say, "I don't want to know you".

So we'll look at them and smile, and then we think, "How long do I have to talk to you before I can go talk to my real friends"? And there's a tension that exists in us between new friends and old friends. It's not a new thing, it's a very biblical thing. We could spend weeks on this list, but we're going to do it pretty quickly, but in Acts chapter 10, Peter has gone to Caesarea, and the events of Acts chapter 2 on the Day of Pentecost have been duplicated. There's one very significant difference. In Act chapter 2 it's Peter and James and John and the Marys and the crew that were close to Jesus, they've been waiting in the Upper Room where Jesus told them to wait until the Holy Spirit was poured out on 'em.

It's an inner circle. It's Jesus's closest followers and friends. And they have this supernatural experience that really ignites the Jesus story going viral in Jerusalem and the surrounding regions and they find a new boldness that comes to them with the presence of the Holy Spirit. They're transformed by it. These people who have cowered in fear and been slow to catch on are now willing to stand in the public square and become unrepentant advocates for Jesus, and thousands of people are responding. It's the most dramatic thing, and they link it back, because they wrote the story, they link it back to the events in Acts chapter 2 on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out, and they link that to Acts chapter 1 as a fulfillment of what Jesus told them to wait for.

So it's Jesus's closest friends, following the instructions they got privately from him. We read about that in John 15, 16, 17. It's fulfilled in Acts 1 and 2. And so the inner circle, they are rocking and rolling. Things are good. Jerusalem is awakening to the true Messiah; the Pharisees, the religious leaders, are becoming jealous; the surrounding villages, the supernatural, Peter's shadow is bringing healing to sick people. But then we get to Acts chapter 10, and the events of Acts chapter 2 are duplicated in the house of a Roman soldier that is filled with pagans. Now, they have no precedent for this. Remember what Jesus said to the non-Jewish woman that came to him and said, "My child needs your help"? He said, "I didn't come, it's not right to give the bread for the children to the dogs".

There's no cultural spin on that that makes that more comfortable. And now the events of Acts chapter 2, the things that has made them unique, the fulfillment of the promises, the Romans? Really? It's in your notes. It's Acts 10:45: "The circumcised believers," that's kind of code for the Jewish believers, "who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on them. For they heard them speaking in tongues and glorifying God". New friends? No, we liked our old friends better. This new friends-old friends is a persistent challenge for the balance of the New Testament, and it's a challenge today. It is so tempting to huddle with familiar faces and to avoid the new ones. We're more comfortable. You know, what's the expression? "Better to be with the devil you know than the one you don't".

You already know the weaknesses and the strengths of the ones you know. Why risk new ones? I gotta go, don't I? Courage, 1 Corinthians 6:13. We've talked about this already: "Be on your guard; and stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong". Church, we're going to have to be people of a different kind of courage. This isn't about comfort and convenience and ease. Who told us that? Who told us that? God is stirring us. We're making great strides. We do church outdoors, indoors. We change: we'll have it on Wednesday night. We're learning a lot of lessons, but underneath it all is we're going to have to be people of courage and be strong.

There's new challenges. I spent a week watching the kids do this. We're going to put you 30 feet in the air and make you walk across a metal cable. "You're going to do what? I don't feel really good". You have to do it. Or they get 'em up in the air, and they'll say, "I can't go any farther". "Well, we won't bring you down". God's got some of us 30 feet in the air. It takes some courage to do this. The whole camp's outdoors. It's not comfortable. It rained one day, it was muddy one day. It's a whole lot better than it's been this week, hallelujah. But you know, hot, and wet is part of it. It's summertime. We had a first aid tent. Kids came to the camp, "The grass scratched me". It will do that. Yes, it will. Come over, let me give you a hug. I think it's okay, it's survivable. No arterial bleeding. We do that a little bit.

"Well, I got there, and the sanctuary where I wanted to sit was full". "I just couldn't worship the Lord. Those songs they sang, I just couldn't". We need like a first aid tent. "Oh, come here, you got a grass scrape". Courage, folks. We can laugh a little bit 'cause we've got a challenge in front of us. We've got some lifting to do. New friends, new faces, courage. We're going to need some encouragement. Hebrews 10:25: "Let us not give up meeting together". All of you on the other side of the red light. I know some of you can't be here, but you need a body of believers. You need God's people. "Let us not give up meeting together, as some of you are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, all the more as you see the Day approaching".

Look, I'll tell you what I observed. Everybody does better with encouragement. Everybody does. Just everybody does better with a little bit of encouragement, but to be an encourager is a learned behavior. One of the things around, I observed last week with the students, or the campers was when they're doing those elements, and the high things and trying to, you know, when they're participating, there's somebody saying to them, "You're doing a good job". And on more than one occasion, I watched somebody, like, come down the climbing wall and they'd be unhooking their harness and somebody else is still going up and they'd turn to go away, they're kind of full of their accomplishment, and I would hear somebody say to them, "Encourage the one on the wall".

I watched 'em train one another. And some of 'em had more of a natural affinity for it. Some of 'em were more introverted. Some of them were more aware of others. I mean, we're all at different points of growth and development, but the Bible tells us to encourage one another. To be an encourager is learned. What if you decide that every day you're going to find three people intentionally and say or do something that's encouraging? I mean, you pick your number, pick your routine, but do it on purpose. If you don't do it on purpose, you probably won't do it. To be an encourager is a choice. It's like saying "thank you".

If you've been around parents who are trying to teach some little people to say "thank you," it will wear the love of Jesus out of you if you've already learned that, right? What do you say? "Thank you". Thirty seconds later, "What do you say"? "Thank you". And before long, I'm like, "Leave 'em alone. Thank you for them". But they're trying to instill something in those hearts to make an impression or an imprint, and being an encourager's not easy. It doesn't come naturally to us. The church is not traditionally known as an encouraging place. Like, what we're known to do is patrol the battlefields and to finish off our wounded. The last place you want to be vulnerable, typically, is in the group of the midst, a group of Christians. I mean, I'm not saying it's right, but isn't kind of the traditional image if you want to go spill your brokens, you go to the bar and do that. But you wouldn't do that in a bunch of Christians.

To be an encourager takes the focus away from ourself. Well, we need that. The kids needed that. I watched two young people, two young women, climb the climbing wall. And one of 'em did it with just, like, raw athletic ability, just like a bug going up the wall. And the other one did it with just strength, an unusually strong young person. I mean, she just, like, overpowered the obstacle. And they did it with different routes and different styles, but they both did it and when they got down and they were unhooking and one of 'em was turned away, and I heard her parents say, "Cheer for the next one". And I thought, "Ah, if we could just learn that with the big people". Cheer for the next one. Cheer for the next one.

Old friends, new friends, courage, encouragement. We're under authority. Ugh. We're not the boss. We may have assignments and realms of authority and things for which we will be held accountable, but ultimately, it's not ours. We're praying that his kingdom come and his will be done. Those were our instructions. And then I spend most of my life trying to figure out how to get him to do my will. How much of our angst with the Lord comes 'cause he's not doing what I want him to do, all right? I mean, I know what I want God to do. And I know pretty much the timeline I want him to do it on.

Luke 7: Jesus has an encounter with a Roman soldier who needs his help. And Jesus agrees to help him. It's really an inexplicable circumstance. The Jewish leaders intercede for the man. They say, "He's a good man, he helps our community, so even though he's a Roman soldier, will you help him"? And Jesus is doing that. And the man comes to meet Jesus, and he said, "Don't trouble yourself. I don't deserve to have you come under my roof". You know the story. "I don't even consider myself worthy to come to you".

Do you understand the power difference in these two? The Roman soldier has the power, the political power, the physical power, the legal power. Jesus is an occupier, occupied. I mean, he has some power we know about because of who we know him to be, but in the social system, the soldier has all the juice. And he says in public, do you understand how vulnerable he's making himself with all of those that he is exercising authority over? He's going to say to one of the hated people that you're domineering, he's going to say, "I wasn't worthy to have you come under my roof". Remarkable, remarkable man. And he said, "I have some authority. I can command soldiers, and I can command," but he said, "You have the authority to command sickness and disease".

How did he know that? Was he on the periphery of when Jesus did the Sermon on the Mount? We don't know. There's no details given, but he said, "I recognize in you an authority". And here's the part that is amazing. It's mind-blowing if we can get it. He is humbling himself before Jesus, "I'm not worthy for you to come under my roof. I will yield to your authority. I didn't bring you to my house at the point of a spear, I didn't bring you under threat of incarceration. You say the word and my servant's okay". Under authority. And it says that Jesus was astonished. He marveled. He said, "I haven't found anybody like this in all of Israel. Who is this man"? And it made everybody mad. "Goofy rabbi. This guy doesn't even eat the right foods. Doesn't even know how to dress. Doesn't come to synagogue. Who are you to tell us"?

But Jesus is trying to tell us something. Under authority. I saw it with the kids. Rules cause us to chafe. They do, the simplest rules. I've talked, "What did you do today? What was your favorite part of camp today"? "I didn't get to do the zip-line". Well, it wasn't like we singled you out. Said, "Oh, look, there's Jane. Whatever you do, don't let her do the zip-line. Torture her today. Make everybody else do the zip, not her". No, there were schedules built and routines put in place and everybody didn't get to do everything on the same day, and some days that wasn't fun 'cause that looked like fun, and I wanted to go do that, and a part of growing through camp was saying, yeah, I'm kind of under that, and my group didn't do that today. We chafe at authority, folks.

We have trouble just parking in the parking lot between the lines. I'm not talking about heavy duty stuff. I'm not talking about sexual, I'm just talking, we have a hard time parking in the parking lot between the lines. We'll go park on a curb illegally. It's closer to the building. Then we'll come inside and ask the Lord to bless us. Does that sound like church? You see, it's just the principle of yielding to authority. It's not easy to us. Someone else made the plans. It's a stupid plan, I don't like it. Me too. We traveled some last month doing pastors' conferences. We got home one Thursday night about midnight, and I made the boneheaded comment at the airport, "At least there won't be any traffic". And you know what happened: there was construction on I-24.

So I've been doing pastors' conferences and traveling from city to city and now we're sitting on I-24 after midnight, backed up for so far I can't even see the solution. And we get to the pinch-point where the major construction is underway and there were three people... two of whom were obviously coaching the one who was working. And I've been parked on I-24 for about 45 minutes. And it's safe to say that when I went past 'em, there was nothing on the inside of me that qualified me to do a pastors' conference. Someone had made a plan and they didn't consult me, and I could help them with the inadequacy of their planning. And if I'd have had the governor's number.

You know, here's the real truth, is you and I are under spiritual authority all the time. The question is which spirit. And to say that you're born again and you're always under the authority of the Holy Spirit really misses the point. We'll all get our mind right when we're getting to do what we want, when we want, the way we want. The challenge is are we willing to be under authority when it requires us to humble ourself and maybe be viewed by people around us whose approval we care about as if somehow we're making a choice that they don't understand? Under authority. I'll tell you what that sounds like when it comes out of me: "Well, this isn't how I thought my life would unfold".

See, being under the authority of Jesus is really about lessons in trust and redemption. My time's up. Old friends, new friends, courage, encouragement, under authority. Help one another. You can't be on the ropes courses, you can't do any of those elements unless there's somebody on the ground attached to you. Somebody has to belay you. It was a part of the lesson for every student, every event, all week long. Before they could start the activity that they were looking forward to, they had to find a peer that would say to them, "I'm ready for you to go".

What if we stood with one another like that? What if we helped one another like that? See, I can kind of mildly poke some fun at the parents that want to intervene to take all the obstacles away from their kids while they're at obstacle camp, because it's so similar to who we are. We want to be strong and new, but I don't want any obstacles. We have to help one another. There's such power in serving. The people that take the most away from that camp, I promise you, are the adults who come serve. And I think there's some amazing things that happen for the students and the campers, but the ones who get the biggest benefit are the adults who come. On Friday morning, they have a quiet time, a reflective time. I'm done with this. And they spend about an hour and they're washing, the counselors are washing students' feet, and the campers are washing one another's feet, and if you look around the periphery, there's all these adults. And the kids are pretty intense.

You know, they're lining, but I walk around that periphery, and I'm praying just for the kids quietly, and adult after adult's got tears running down their cheeks. Old, hard, crusty, grumpy, cranky camp counselors, and the Lord's touching our hearts. We need the Lord to touch our hearts. We need some leadership from the church again. We've been acting like the world. Now I promised you a psalm with some angel stories. It's Psalm 35. I want us to close with this proclamation. We're just going to read it together. But I want you to hear what David is praying and what happened to the people that opposed the purposes of God. Why don't we stand for this? You ready?

"Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid. Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to my soul, 'I am your salvation.' May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay. May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the LORD driving them away; may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them".

Hang on just a moment. How's that for a prayer? "May the path of my enemy be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them". That's not, like, an easy camp. Verse 7: "Since they hid their net for me without cause and without cause dug a pit for me, may ruin overtake them by surprise, may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin. Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation. My whole being will exclaim, 'Who is like you, O LORD? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and the needy from those who rob them,'" amen. That's a great prayer. God bless you.
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