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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Awkward Truths of Leadership - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Awkward Truths of Leadership - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Awkward Truths of Leadership - Part 2
TOPICS: Leadership

Influence, leadership in the kingdom of God is not primarily about power, or privilege, or unique opportunities, or being treated specially. Understand the essence of it, the foundation of it is about sacrifice and service and knowing what you celebrate. It's a life laid down. A friend of mine gave me a book sometime ago called, "Leaders Eat Last". Same idea, good book. Jesus said it this way: "The first will be last". Or maybe you know the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Same idea. We've perverted the Golden Rule. You know that.

The one who has the gold rules, but only for a little while; because I know the one who has all the gold, and the all the cattle, and all the silver, and he's ultimately going to bring justice to the world we live in. Or maybe you prefer the tortoise and the hare. The race doesn't go to the swift, but to the one who's persistent and unyielding. Again, we're talking about influence and what's gonna be necessary within us to become people of greater influence, so that the worldview we hold and the principles we've embraced, and the assignment that we've been given breaks forth into our generation in a new way. Jesus is our example.

Look in John 12 and verse 23. Jesus said, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified". That's good news. If I'm one of Jesus' disciples, he says, "Listen, it's time for me to be glorified". Wow! I mean, he's been kind of under the radar. He's been, at best, a B list artists up to this point. He hasn't played the big stages. He hasn't been celebrated very long. He had that little triumphal entry thing, but I mean that was one day, and he started crying in the middle of that, mumbling something about they're gonna dash your babies against the rocks. I mean, it was kind of a good day, but, you know, it's kind of a mixed bag. The Pharisees are chirping over here. It was the kids that were celebrating.

So now Jesus said, "The time has come for me to be glorified". I'm thinking, "Yes"! Then he gives us the rest of the story. "I tell you the truth," and by now you're thinking, "Oh, here we go". "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. And the man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me". See, we don't serve Jesus on our terms. We don't serve him based on our convenience or ease. Open space, unused time. I don't have a better option. The only way to serve him is to truly follow him, and that means his pace, his direction, his initiative. That's what it means to follow him. "Where I am, my servant also will be". You hanging out in places where Jesus is? "My Father will honor the one who serves me".

You want to be honored by the Lord? There you go. Serve the Son. "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour". There's an eternal struggle in Jesus. He said, "I'd really not rather do this". He's about to begin his passion, his suffering. And he said, "What should I say? I don't want to do this"? He is going to say that when he gets into it. By the time he gets to Gethsemane, the pressure is greater. The stress is greater. The strain is greater. "Father, if there's any other way," he says, "I would rather go that way". You see, we have this mistaken notion that following the Lord should be easy, comfortable, convenient. We'd be happy about it all the time. Wee! And I like being happy and comfortable, and I prefer convenient over inconvenient, but choosing the Lord's best doesn't always come in those categories.

And I think we've mistakenly thought, "Well, if I didn't enjoy it, if it wasn't fun, I'm not doing that anymore. Why would I do that"? "I want to do something that's just pleasant to me, or I feel rewarded for, or appreciated for, or gratified by," and we've used all of those descriptors, which we think our influence is about and our influence is diminished week over week, and month over month, and year over year, because we've given ourselves to what we want to do. We've thought about service in terms of enduring the church service. "How long does it last"? Look at his outline. What size font is it? Sometimes you can look at the outline, just lose hope. I understand that. And Jesus is having that struggle. He said, "No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour".

Do you know why you're here? To be salt and light, to be an influence. You get professional degrees. You have addresses. You have entrée into all sorts of arenas. Do you lead with your faith? Do you influence with your faith? Are you known primarily for your faith? Well, I want you to be competent in your chosen profession. I want you to be respected in all those arenas. And I want our faith to go with us. Father, glorify your name. He said, "Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.'" Someone told me many years ago that big guidance is for places where you have great stress. You don't need God shouting at you. You want to learn to listen to that still, small voice. And when I read that passage, and I hear Jesus processing this conflict within him, and a voice from heaven, I believe it was a struggle for him; because the people around him, they said it just thundered. They didn't get the message.

John 10, verse 17, Jesus again, "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life, only to take it up again". Jesus chose to lay down his life. Do you know that was a choice on his part? Again, the topic now is sacrifice and service. And what's it mean in your mind to make a sacrifice for the kingdom of God? Sitting in church on a beautiful fall day, writing a check out of your abundance, volunteering once in a while? What's it mean for you? The overwhelming majority of your life, your energy, your influence, your ambition, your effort? And what proportions do you direct that towards your faith or through your faith? Jesus is our example.

John 19, we get to listen in. He's before Pilate, the Roman governor. Most of you know this story. Pilate says to him, "Do you refuse to speak to me"? Jesus won't defend himself. "Don't you realize I have power to either free you or to crucify you"? And Jesus answered, "You have no power over me, if it weren't given to you from above". But Pilate doesn't believe that. I understand it. But Jesus knows that to be true. He said, "Look, you know, I know you're impressed with yourself; but if I was so inclined, you'd grow a new nose right out of your forehead. Poof. You really don't have any power over me unless my Dad gave it to you". Jesus understands. More importantly, he understands that he is going to lay down his life, and he will let someone over whom he has tremendous authority, if he chooses to exercise it. He's not flexing his muscles. He's serving on our behalf.

You see, when we serve, we typically do it on behalf of someone else. Somebody else is going to get the benefit. Someone else will be strengthened. Someone else will have a door opened or an opportunity breakthrough. It may be the only expression of kindness they receive. It may be the safest place in their world that day. We walk away. We want to feel it. I want to feel gratified. I want to feel bolstered. I want to feel renewed. Sometimes I just walk away, and I feel tired. Pilate chose that day not to use his influence for the good. He knows Jesus is innocent, but it was easy for him to be quiet. It would've cost him something, for certain, might've cost him a power struggle in Jerusalem with the Jewish leaders. Maybe they would've pushed the envelope, maybe he would've cost him a problem ultimately with his position, might've impacted his retirement, reputation probably would've taken a hit. Who knows? Those kind of things can spiral out of control in a hurry.

So, I think I'll just be quiet. And he missed the opportunity of his lifetime. Jesus chose obedience. It wasn't forced on him. If you cycle just a little bit further into the story, in John 18, they're in Gethsemane. They come to arrest Jesus, and Jesus commands Peter, "Put your sword away". He said, "I've got to drink this cup". He commanded Peter, "Peter, put your sword down". I don't know. If they're coming to arrest you, and somebody wants to defend you, you're like, "Is anybody else gonna help him? Where are the rest of you people going"? See, Jesus is willing, he's making a choice to serve. He's gonna ask us to do that. We have wrongly imagined serving, you know, we do things around church together.

Church is a people thing. There is no church without people. We don't have a fall festival or a worship service without people, hundreds of people. It takes about 200 people for us to have a worship service, the way we do it. All the technology in the rooms and the buttons. And once upon a time, I was the technical director in this place. That should frighten you. The music board we had, had eight channels. Two of them didn't work. And that was about my level of technical expertise. Now, there are dozens and dozens of people, people taking care of babies, and children, and all sorts of jobs, keeping the place clean. And we've wrongly imagined that, you know, serving is take a little volunteer role in the church. Okay, that's like step one. That's beginner level. That's like see Spot run, serve. It's important, it's valuable, it makes church possible, but the value of the church is when we leave here. We get the salt out of the shaker.

Now, that's a far more hostile environment. And we've kind of interpreted all of this in our heads. "No, no, no, I went to church, sat there, suffered through that whole thing". I wish we had cameras, we'll put up cameras when you're coming in and cameras when you're going out. So, I want you to know the difference in the expressions. Just the pace at which you move. You're kind of different, but I've visited quite a few places. Coming into church, Gotta go to the bathroom. I need a cup of coffee. Better have some water. Does anybody have a mint? Fills up from the back forward. When you're leaving, don't need the bathrooms, don't want any coffee, no water needed. We've gotta get out of here. Parking lot turns into a race track. You're signaling one another, "You're number one," all over the church parking lot. Thank God I got through serving for another week. Ah. Same story.

Matthew gives us a little different window. Put your sword back in its place. He said all who draw the sword will die that way. He said, "Peter, do you think I can't call on my Father"? The answer is no, he's not thinking about that. "Do you think I can't call on my Father, and at once he'll put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels"? Again, Jesus submitted to the suffering. Now, I'm not asking you to be a martyr, but I want to be honest with you. Serving the Lord is not always pleasant, or fun, or rewarding in the moment, or easy, or convenient. Who said it should be? Who told us that, and why did we believe the lie?

Now, the fact that you're suffering doesn't mean you're honoring the Lord. You can suffer for being wicked. You see, the big deception is that godliness is hard, and ungodliness is easy. Folks, that is a lie. Ungodliness will destroy you. It'll destroy your health, your relationships, your emotional stability, your physical well-being. It will destroy you. But godliness doesn't mean every day is just a skip down the yellow brick road. Our influence, you see, there's a reason we've stopped being an influence. We recognized intuitively, if no other way, it was a little more difficult and a little more challenging. Let somebody else do it. I just don't want to do that. Yes, you do. The outcomes are wonderful, amazing, eternal.

What are you gonna do? Are you gonna submit to the slavery and the voices that tell you to yield and to be quiet, or are you gonna follow the Lord? I know it's harder. One last awkward truth, and I'll wrap it up with this. Work's a four-letter word. Did you know that? In the sense that it's almost become inappropriate to use. Now, there are words we can't say. The list keeps changing. George Carlin had a career breakthrough with some words he couldn't say, and now they're said all the time. But we have a new list. And one of the words that we're just really not sure we ought to use much anymore is work. Well, I have an announcement to make. And it's not theoretical to me. I can base it upon some life experience. Ministry is work. And serving, it's work, too. Leading, that's gonna be work, too. Influence for good, you guessed it, that's work. And you've got a decision to make. Some of the greatest battles in Jesus's life, in fact, one of the most persistent battles had to do with his understanding of work. It kept him in hot water continuously.

In John 5 and verse 16, it says "because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, like healing people, the Jews persecuted him. And Jesus said to them, 'My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.'" Ha, I thought God worked for six days and just quit. Way back there in Genesis, do you know God's been cranking it out since Genesis? Won't it be fun to see all the stuff he's been working on? Right now, all we have is receptors to see what's here in this world. That's what our five sense are about. But one day the Bible says we will see fully. Hoo-hoo! God is busy working. Jesus said, "I am at work". It's a very important principle.

Can Jesus, consistently in his life challenged. He refused to comply with the Sabbath rules regarding work. He challenged the contemporary narrative about what work was. And I don't mean he just did it once, or in one place, or in one setting. He did it repeatedly, over and over and over again, and he taught his disciples to do it. Now, the whole notion around keeping, about work on the Sabbath came from the one statement in the decalogue, the Ten Commandments, "Keep the Sabbath holy". Well, what's that mean? That was the question put to the rabbis. And out of that came all the Sabbath rules and their legal experts. And Jesus is not having it. He just won't yield. And I think we have some real confusion around work. It's paralyzing us as a people. It's being used to diminish us. It's used, it's being used against us to make an idol out of someone who will do the work we should do and then give us the outcome.

I'll close with this, 1 Corinthians 15. Paul is, it caught my attention. I've been going back and forth through Corinthians. The Corinthian church was a mess, immoral, ungodly, gluttonous. They were carnal and selfish, indulgent in almost every way you can imagine; and yet Paul, he stays engaged with them. And he says to them, "I die every day. I mean that, brothers, just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. I fought wild beasts in Ephesus". It was that phrase that caught my attention. He said, "If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus..." You know Ephesus? I mean there's a book in the New Testament written to the Ephesian believers. Paul stopped there. He says for 2 years he taught in Ephesus. They put him out of the synagogue. They were angry with him. They didn't like his message, so they rejected him. And yet, for 2 years, he stayed in that city and taught the Word of God to them. And yet somehow it comes, the seven sons of Sceva, do you remember that story?

Seven Jewish boys, their father's a high priest. They'd seen Paul providing deliverance from unclean spirits, so they thought they would try it, and they got stripped naked and beaten and ran down the street. But it says the fear of the Lord came on them, all the people living in Ephesus, and they brought out all the things that they used for wicked purposes, and they had a bonfire, a public bonfire. Says the value of the things they burned was 50,000 drachmas. A drachma was about one day's wage. If a day's wage is $100, five million dollars. In one city, five million dollars' worth of evil paraphernalia. Revival. Ephesus, you know what happened next? The metal workers that made idols saw a diminished income. Flipped out. Started a riot.

It's Paul's fault. He's teaching things that are against Rome. He's an agitator. Such a violent riot consumes the city. They sweep into the stadium in the city; and if they hadn't kept Paul away from the crowd, it seems they would've torn him limb from limb. And he says to the Corinthians, "I had to fight for what happened in Ephesus". And we pray, "Lord, I'd like a ministry. I'd like a group of ten people that like to bake, and I'm available on Tuesdays. Well, actually, I'm available every other Tuesday. Eleven o'clock's good for me because I like to rest a little bit in the mornings. And I don't really like cold weather. Could we just do it in the spring? 'Cause in summer, it's really hot and humid".

Me, too. Me, too. God has awakened us, folks. There's a battle raging in our streets. It's filled our schools, and our college campuses, and our corporate board rooms, and our hospital corridors, and our court rooms, and our churches. The question on the table is are we willing to lead with our faith? Are we gonna use our influence? Are we gonna do the work that's been assigned to us? Will we make the sacrifice? Will we serve? Will we follow our Lord? I believe we will. It's the story of God's people through the generations, but the season ahead of us will be different than our past experience. Are you ready? I want to pray for you. Why don't we stand together?

You know, it's a dangerous thing to say yes to the Lord. He will take you at your word. And he will write a new future for us. In Hebrews, it says he's the author and the completer of our story. He has that license that an author has. He gets to write the ending. I would like God to write our ending, wouldn't you? Would you be open to that? There's a little trust involved. It means you have to say to your ending, and go put it in a circular file and say, "God, I will allow you to write the ending". Let's pray:

Father, thank you for your Word, for its truth, and power, and authority. I thank you for the church in the earth. Lord, in generation after generation after generation, you have called people to your purposes, and there have been those who have responded, and we stand in your presence today to say here we are, to offer ourselves, Lord, that we would use the influence of our lives that you have entrusted to us, those places where our voices listen to, where our opinion matters, where someone looks our way when they're stressed, or opportunity, Lord. We pray that we would have the new courage and a new boldness. Holy Spirit, help us, help us to recognize those places, the ones we've overlooked, the ones we haven't been awake to, and we haven't imagined, the places where you've squandered and stepped past, the times we've run and hidden, because we understood there could be a cost, and we didn't intend to pay it. We ask for you to forgive us, but we also ask for you to begin to open new doors for new outcomes, for new responses.

Lord, we are listening. We want to hear your voice and recognize your instruction. We want to live in such a way that when our days are spent, and our strength is diminished, and we stand before you, that the response will be, "Well done". You've been both good and faithful. May not one of us miss that opportunity. May not one of us be turned aside. May not one of us be distracted or diminished. Teach us to encourage and strengthen and help one another. And we thank you that throughout the earth the name of Jesus will be lifted up, that your kingdom will come, and your will, will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus's name, amen.

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