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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Leadership Matters

Allen Jackson - Leadership Matters

Allen Jackson - Leadership Matters
TOPICS: Leadership

It's a privilege to be with you. Our topic: "Leadership Matters". Sometimes in the church we step away from that, we think it's secular. I don't think so. You know we understand in athletics a good coach makes a difference. In the kitchen a good cook makes a great difference. Well amongst the people of God, a leader makes all the difference. Moses changed a generation, king David changed the future of the history of the nation of Israel. We need God's leaders in this unique point in history, and he's called you and me. Grab your Bible, get a notepad and open your heart.

Throughout scripture when God is recruiting a new leader or inviting his people to a new season, he frequently reminds them that to be strong and courageous. Or, in the negative, to not be afraid and discouraged. And the lesson we take away is that two things we absolutely need to finish our course as Christ followers is strength and courage. I doubt you'll make Heaven without courage. I believe you could get there if your systematic theology was flawed, but I don't believe you'll get there without courage. And I and somehow I don't think we very often imagine courage as a necessary component of faith. It's more a routine, a responsibility, a burden, an intrusion. And God said we need strength and courage.

The other idea we've linked to that is the reality of spiritual things, that those things which we don't see influence our lives more frequently than the things that we do see. Stated another way, what happens to you is a small thing compared to what happens within you. Now somehow we recoil is intellectually when we talk about unseen things in the context of our faith. I don't believe that compromises the integrity of your towering intellect. We depend upon unseen things every day in our lives, whether it's digital communications tools, radio or television, we communicate in all kinds of ways. There are unseen things that we understand affect our lives, whether it's a bacteria or a virus but we reject the idea that spiritual things influence us. And yet scripture says that God is a spirit and those that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

So the invitation is, if we're going to lead lives of courageous faith, that we begin to make decisions, not just theoretical ideas around religious discussions, but decisions in our lives that affect our calendar and our resources and our energy investments, and how we plan and how we conduct ourselves based upon the reality of unseen things. "Courageous Faith" is the topic. John chapter 3 and verse 9, Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus. Nicodemus is a religious leader and he's come to Jesus. He's interested in this new rabbi and he said, "What do I have to do to inherit eternal life"? And Jesus said, "No one will enter the Kingdom of God unless you're born again".

And Nicodemus is confused, in fact Jesus just blew apart his whole worldview because Nicodemus is a religious person. His entire life is defined by adherence to rules, the clothing he wears, the food he eats, the holidays he celebrates, how he conducts himself, all defined by more than 600 religious rules. And Jesus said the rules aren't sufficient, if you're not born again, you won't enter the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus was quite certain he belonged to the right group of people and he worshiped in the right way and Jesus has presented him with a new idea. So Nicodemus is perplexed. And he said, "How can this be?" And Jesus responds, "You're Israel's teacher and you don't understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people don't accept our testimony. I've spoken to you of earthly things and you don't believe. How will then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things"?

Jesus creates identifies these two categories, earthly things and heavenly things, and he's suggesting to us that heavenly things are of greater significance. In Courageous Faith I'm inviting you to choose a life path that takes into account and makes decisions based upon Heavenly things and not simply earthly things. God created the earth and everything that's in it for our pleasure. I'm not opposed to that, it's just very short sighted to spend the strength of your life on something that you can't keep because the earthly things are temporary, you're not taking them with you. The finest house, the most lavish food, the most remarkable financial plans, all those things, they have a place. I'm not opposed to them but don't allow them to consume your life to the point that you forfeit the opportunity of Heavenly things.

And if you think sitting in church is addressing Heavenly things, just flip the amount of time you spend on earthly things and Heavenly things. Your 90 minute visit to church on occasion would not be an adequate time block to address the things that you consider valuable. Heavenly things. Well this particular session we're talking about leadership because I believe there is a leadership vacuum in the Body of Christ. We need godly leaders at every level of society, in classrooms and courtrooms, in the hospital corridors, on job sites and factory floors, and in the way we conduct business. We have all sorts of expressions of a lack of Christian leadership, but rather than spend our time bemoaning that, why not raise a generation of leaders?

I appreciate that enthusiastic response. As I thought about you in anticipation of this lesson, it was it was so clear to me that I was going to be addressing a room full of accomplished people. You're already accomplished leaders. If we had time to share your stories it's an amazing array of extraordinary accomplishments. You have impressive academic credentials. Your resumes reflect remarkable achievements. You have lead in academics, in classrooms, on factory floors and job sites, and plant management, in hospital corridors and operating rooms, in courtrooms, in the halls of government and business endeavors in many, many ways you lead across our community. You're a collection of overachievers, I know many of you. You've earned a living, you've made payrolls, you've balanced budgets, you've solved problems, you've managed people, you've worked together to overcome adversity.

You've lived through disappointments. You've stood up against injustice, you've reared children. You've done all those things while you were paying taxes, while you're living with honor and integrity, while you're learning to be faithful friends, amazing achievements. And when we open the door to a discussion about leading in the context of your faith, of using your influence and your skill set and in your life opportunities to be an advocate for Jesus, the responses that come back are very different.

I hear statements like this. "Well, people don't know me in that way. They wouldn't take me, they wouldn't consider me credible if I was gonna talk to them about my faith. I don't feel like I'm trained enough in that arena. I'm not really a people person. I don't want to be divisive and people might think I was judging them, and I certainly don't want to bring division. Pastor, isn't that what we pay you for"? That's my favorite. Well, I want to invite you today, in this particular session and if your time allows this evening, to a two session leadership school for the people of faith, because I believe in this generation, God is looking for men and women who are willing to use the influence of their lives to make an impact for the Kingdom of God. I'm not really recruiting you to a new program or asking you to jump over some higher bar.

I'm asking you to imagine that the influence that God has entrusted to you could be a powerful tool for the purposes of the Kingdom of God. So let's start with maybe the simplest of matters that leadership really does matter, it's important. I don't know why in the church we almost think of leadership as a secular word, that it doesn't matter. Throughout scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, when God's ready to do something significant, he looks for leaders. He does. God's recruitment of leaders is an interesting way to approach your Bible. It will be a fun study if you're looking for a new way to approach it. I brought you two examples, Exodus chapter 3 is the story of Moses's recruitment. And most of you know the Moses story, Hollywood has helped. They've even animated Moses's story.

Some of you have been around church enough, you know the story from there. Moses is a Hebrew slave. He was abandoned by his parents. I know we've romanticized that story a bit, that they hid him for a while, but ultimately they put him in the Nile River to drown. And he's fished out of the river by Pharaoh's daughter, and he's reared in Pharaoh's palace as if he were the son of Pharaoh's daughter. Now that would bring some emotional pressure in your life if you knew you were a Hebrew slave and your people were enslaved. but you grow up with the treatment of being Pharaoh's daughter. You think that might torque you a little bit? It did Moses, he was an angry young man. We know that because as a young man, when he saw an Egyptian slave master mistreating a Hebrew, he murdered him. And then he had to run for his life. And for 40 years as a sheepherder on the backside of the desert.

And one day, God comes for Moses, and that's what's in your notes. It's Exodus 3 and verse 7: "The Lord said I've indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt, and I've heard them crying out because of their slave drivers and I'm concerned about their suffering. So I've come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and a spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey," the home of a of a lot of people. You pronounce them. "And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them".

Up until this point, I'm thinking as Moses is hearing this he's going yes, yes, that's exactly right. I am so glad to hear it, hallelujah. He's got his white hanky out going, "You go God". I think he's fully on board. He understands those scenarios and God has made seven statements about what God is going to do. He said, "I have seen and I have heard and I've come down and I'm gonna deliver them and I'm gonna give them a new future". And Moses is going, "Absolutely". I mean, everything is perfect until we get to verse 10. And God says, "So now go, I'm sending you". "Whoa. I was with you right up to the 'I'm sending part.'"

And I have to be honest, I think that's a lot of the way that we imagine God. We wish God would do something about those fifty million children every year or the 3000 a day in the States. And, you know we'd like something to happen, and then God said, "I'm sending you," and I go, "No, no, no, I got a full week". And some of you know the rest of the story, Moses complains stridently with God. You can be, he said, you know, "I don't have the vocal gifts to do it. I don't speak plainly". And God and he walked through some miracles where God's power is made evident to Moses and God, Moses, "You know, I know you're powerful, but I still don't want to go". And he argues with God to the point God gets mad at him. It's heartening to me.

How many times have I argued with God? Well I don't wanna do that, it's not my job. I'm gonna turn up the volume so I don't have to listen to this. I don't want to be encumbered with that. Some of you prefer the New Testament, Acts chapter 9. Jesus, we meet him on the road to Damascus. That's intriguing, because in Acts chapter 1, Jesus ascended back to Heaven. He stepped out of time, he's gone back to Heaven, in Acts chapter 9 he's back, he's looking for somebody, Saul of Tarsus. He's a pharisee and he is adamantly opposed to anybody who believes Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.

In fact, in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, he's been searching out those people and dragging them in chains to prison, men, women or children, what a happy fellow. And he's doing it with some selfish motivation, some selfish ambition, because it's brought him to the attention of the power brokers in Jerusalem, and his star is rising quickly. In fact, he's gotten authority to go to Damascus to travel to a foreign city, to look for anybody that would dare say Jesus is the Messiah. And he's on the road to Damascus, traveling north through Israel and Jesus steps back in time, knocks him off his horse into the dust. You have, we have misimagined Jesus. You know in the movies he always whispers, and he's got kind of these glazed over eyes like he's not quite focusing.

I'm thinking Paul thought he was focused, face in the dust, blind, and he hears a voice. And he says, "Get back on your horse and go to Damascus, I'll tell you the rest of the story". Clever guy Saul, he got on the horse and went to Damascus. Well in Damascus Jesus has another friend, his name is Ananias. I'll get to your notes, I promise. But you can check me this really is in the Bible. And God says to Ananias, "I want you to go pray for Saul". And Ananias has the same problem with God that I often have, he realizes that God isn't adequately informed because Ananias spends a good bit of effort explaining to God why he shouldn't go see Saul, because he's a bad man and he's come to town looking for people like him. Ananias was quite certain God had been off of social media for a few days and wasn't up to speed.

Do you ever have ever have to help God out? God I know what the Bible says, but you couldn't mean it the way it... I mean, it couldn't mean that. So let me explain to you how life is so you can adjust yourself to me. Well, Ananias agreed and he goes to pray for Saul that his vision can be restored, but it's a portion of it. It's in your notes, it's Acts 9. Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples, and he went to the High Priest. Well the Lord said to Ananias, "This man Saul is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel". Jesus was on a recruiting assignment, he was head hunting for the emerging church. He said, "This Saul of Tarsus is my chosen instrument".

Now I want to be certain you understand something: Jesus is still recruiting. He is still touching lives, saying, "You're my chosen instrument". If you'll allow me, I want to submit to you that you're a chosen instrument for the purposes of God. I don't think it's an accident that both Moses and Saul were very reluctant recruits. And I believe that's because they were both aware enough, intelligent enough to understand the cost of leading with their faith. Moses understood the power of Pharaoh, that's why he had run into the wilderness 40 years before. He didn't go back and pick a fight with Pharaoh when he knew he'd transgressed. He simply fled the country. And now God's sending him back with the message that he should release his slaves. Not likely to be a welcome message and Moses doesn't want to go.

Saul understands the power and the influence and the reach and the determination of the religious council in Jerusalem, and he understands that to embrace Jesus, he's going to stand separate from them, opposed to them. And I want to be candid with you, if you decide to lead with your faith, to be an advocate for Jesus of Nazareth in the public square, you're going to face some challenges, not everybody's gonna cheer. Some people would prefer you to be quiet not because you criticize or condemn or have anything to say about them, simply your advocacy for Jesus and their own life choices will create enough differentiation that there'll be discomfort.

John 17. Jesus was speaking, in fact, John 17 is his high priestly prayer. He's preparing to for the beginning of his passion, for the cross. There's just one verse there: "Jesus said while I was with them I protected them and I kept them safe and by that name you gave me". While I was with them, he said. He's talking to his father. He said, while I was with them I protected them and I kept them safe by the name you gave me. Well, Jesus gave us the authority to use his name with all its rights and privileges. And I want to submit to you that we have an assignment to be to be gatekeepers, to watch over, to bring protection to... The scripture says that we're salt and light and if the people are stumbling in the darkness it's because the light is inadequate. You and I have an assignment in a in this generation to take the purposes of God and the Word of God and the truth of God, to bring protection and safety and security for those who don't have the ability to bring it to themselves.

You say, Pastor, I don't want that. I just want to go to Heaven. In the event that there's a hell, I don't want to go there, just tell me what I need to do. Is there a prayer I need to pray? Is there a committee I need to sign up for? Can I get a laminated badge? And I believe in prayers and I'm grateful for committees and even badges have their points and purposes, but those things don't mean we're engaged in the things of God. Leadership, if it means you use the influence of your life to push an idea forward that doesn't matter to you. God's people have a rich history of influencing our world, being difference makers. Across centuries and across cultures and across many different things, we've been the watchmen on the walls, we have stood in the gap.

We've been ark builders and giant slayers, and the rebuilders of the walls around the city of Jerusalem. We've demolished idols and fearlessly presented the truth. We've absorbed threats and endured torture. We've faced lions, we've even walked through the furnace. What's gonna be said of the 21st century church? We have reserved parking? This is our season but for years, we've done leadership training around the church in a variety of settings and I used a little tool. I want to take a minute and share it with you. There's three "I's" that are critical to leading effectively. It works in the church, it'll work in any setting. It starts with influence. Leadership at the end of the day is about influence. It's not about a title we've all known people that have titles and we could have cared less. Nobody was following them.

If you think you're a leader and there's nobody following, you're not leading, you're just taking a walk. If you want an image of somebody with a title and nobody cared think of Barney Fife, right? Barney had a uniform, a hat, a badge, and a gun but they wouldn't give him any bullets. Clever folks in Mayberry. The leadership isn't about a title, it's really about influence. And here's the important thing to realize, you have influence. You may not have the influence you would like, you may dream or aspire to greater influence than you have, but there are people who care about your opinion. They want to know what you think about what's happening in the world, what's happening in our community? They would listen to you if you would be willing to share an opinion. They care about what you think.

And I'm asking you to think about your influence in the context of the Kingdom of God. Do the people who know you, know you as a Christ follower? I don't mean just identifying with the congregation, that you're an attender when it's available on a weekend. But do they know about the passion of your life? Do you use your influence to be an advocate for Jesus? There's a "i"and that's about being intentional. Leadership is not random. If you asked me to go on a trip with you, I'm gonna ask you where we're going. And if you don't know, we're not taking a trip, we're just gonna wander for a while. There's an intentionality to faith. My Bible begins with an, "in the beginning" and it concludes with the end. It suggests a linear story with a purpose from the beginning of it to the end of it and God has a purpose for your life.

You have a God assignment and in the various contexts of your life. You have a home. There's a God assignment in your home. If you're single, or you're married, or you got little kids or your kids are grown, there's a God assignment, a clearly articulated God assignment for that season in your home. You go to work, not just to earn a living, you have a God assignment in the context of that environment, in the way you interact with people and the way you lead, in the way you manage, in the way you respond to those who manage you, in the integrity of how you present yourself.

You say Pastor, I work in a wicked, ungodly, immoral place. You know what we call that? A missionary. We send short term missions teams all over the world, little brief excursions into places where the Gospel was heard small and the food's weird and the money's funny colors. Nobody's tempted to immigrate, you're in there for a season and you're out, but you go with a mission, you go with a purpose. And God sends us into the marketplace with a purpose. You've got friends with whom you recreate, you do things to relax, to unwind. You've got a God assignment in that context. Your influence for the Kingdom.

This isn't random stuff. You can't have a church face and a recreation face and a business face and a family face. You can't remember which mask to put on in which space. If you don't, if you think you're managing that, let me talk to your kids. They're telling on you right over there in the early childhood space. "Pray for my daddy, he screamed at my mommy all the way to church". We don't record their prayer requests. There's a third "i" and that's inadequate. In the context of our faith we are inadequate. I stand up week after week after week and tell you about a product that I can't deliver. I can't change a human heart.

On my best day I can't heal a gnat's wing. There is a God and it's not me and I can't deliver those things. But the one who's given us the message is faithful. And so if when you think about leading with your faith and stepping into those arenas and telling people about God, if it gives you pause because you think to me, I'm not adequate to do that, my life's too inconsistent, I don't have all the answers, I haven't studied enough. I can't even pronounce all the words in the book, I'm telling you that's not a disqualification. That is your most significant qualification. The people that frighten me are the people that think they've got it all together, that they know the answers to all the questions.

My most frequently used answer is, I don't know. I'm an advocate for learning. I've been in school most of my life, I hope I keep getting to learn. But if you feel inadequate, you are at the head of the line to be recruited by the King of Kings. You know why there's such a win-win in that? Because when his power is made evident through our lives and there's a God outcome that comes about, people will look at you and go, that had to be God. That would be my life story. So influence, being intentional and inadequacy are three key components to your leadership in the context of your faith or any part of your life, for that matter.

Heavenly Father, I pray you will awaken us to the influence you have given each of us. That we might see with eyes of faith, the people around us who would accept an opinion, an idea, direction, a voice, that we might lead in the name of your Kingdom with faith and courage and power in the midst of a lost and dark world. I thank you for what you'll do. In Jesus's name, amen.

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