Creflo Dollar — Grace-Based Leadership
If you have your Bible, go with me to the Book of Judges and I wanna establish this tonight by using an old Old Testament illustration here where all of these points seem to be. I'm so impressed in and what this stands for this year, this meeting, "Leading in Excellence."
And I believe there comes a time where you have to get leaders together and you've got to talk about leadership because, you know, people following you will either enhance their lives or mess it up. And you're not a leader unless somebody's following you anyway. And so I just believe that, you know, my part in this meeting, I wanna talk to you about grace-based leadership.
What does that look like? What does grace-based leadership look like and I pulled out my old Bible. I used this maybe 20 years ago which means the words are a lot smaller so I need the Bible I have now, the words are a lot bigger. These are the smallest words, I think, I've ever seen in a long time, amen. But I got an instrument to help me out here tonight.
I wanna start off by talking to you about Gideon who was a tremendous leader, believed God and what he could do with 300 men and the number of times that he could have taken advantage of people. But he wouldn't do it. And even before we get to chapter 9 just to establish these people so you know who they are: Gideon, the son of Joash and then in Judges chapter 8 you see Gideon refusing the kingship in verse 22 of chapter 8: "Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou has delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my sons rule over you."
He says, "The Lord shall rule over you." In other words, we're gonna look to God as the one that will provide the leadership. Now, one of the things as we go through this is Jerubbaal. Oh, excuse me, Jerubbaal is the same guy as Gideon. They're just using that name. And so in verse 30 of chapter 8, Gideon now has 70 sons. My God. Seventy sons born to him.
"He had many wives and he had this concubine that was in Shechem, and she also bore him a son, whose name was Abimelech." And this is what we zero in on this son who was born from this concubine in Shechem. And so we move to Judges chapter 9 and we see in verse 1: "And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal," who is Gideon. Jerubbaal, Gideon, same guy.
"Abimelech went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying, "Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether it is better for you, either that they all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons," 70, "should they all reign over you, or that one reign over you?" He says, "Which would you prefer? All of them or me?" "Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh."
Now, the first thing I notice here is that this guy's promoting himself. And real, real leaders will not promote themselves. There's something wrong when a leader promotes himself. Tonight, I wanna establish this fact that when we build leadership we have to build leadership on a sure foundation and that foundation is Jesus.
The leadership has got to be built on Jesus. If it's built on anything else, it's gonna be flawed. There's something gonna be wrong with it. But just remember this, a real leader will not promote himself. And here's a guy campaigning, going to people, his mother's family, to see if they can, you know, get him in.
And it says in verse 2: "Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem," and then tells them, you know, "Remember I'm bone of your bone; I'm bone and your flesh." And in verse 3: "And his mother's brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He's our brother. And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baalberith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him. And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal," or Gideon, "being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself."
Now, when leaders are self-promotive, something is wrong with them and something's wrong with their character. You don't have to wait 'til you get beat up to realize something's wrong with 'em. Just start looking at the signs as they come. Something's wrong with them and something's wrong with their character because if you'll notice here, the money that they gave him, he went and hired a bunch of thugs. He hired these thugs to go and commit this egregious act and killed all of the brothers except for the one that hid himself.
And now, notice what happens here now. And then Jotham heard about it, and move over to verse 6: "And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all of those at Millo, and they went, and they made Abimelech the king, by the plan of the pillars that was in Shechem." And so in verse 7: "They went and they told it to Jotham, and he went and he stood in the top of this mountain and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you."
Now, this youngest boy is getting ready to declare what was getting ready to happen as a result of what happens. Now, I want us to take note of what he says here. He uses the analogy of these trees. And literally opens his mouth up and there's this curse that's gonna come on Abimelech. And he says in verse 8: "The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us."
Now, notice the response of the olive tree. "But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honor God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?"
You see, each tree was secure in what God made them to be. They were not looking for a promotion for some of them looked at it as a demotion to leave the security of what God had made them to be and yet sometimes in the church we're so hungry to be promoted, not recognizing that when you're somewhere that God hasn't made you to be, you're actually demoted and not promoted. Are you listening to me?
But look who's interested in this. "Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us." He speaks to this thorny weedy thing that's not really producing or bearing anything. And he said to the bramble, "If in truth you anoint me king over you, then come, put your trust in my shadow."
Now, what if I don't put my trust in your shadow? Because there's a lot of things wrong with putting your trust in a shadow because in James chapter 1 and verse 17, I'll pick it up later but I wanna show you. A shadow comes because there's a lack of light somewhere. And I don't know why anybody would wanna follow something with a lack of light.
Verse 17 says in James 1: "Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]."
The King James said: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." If it's a good gift and if it's a gift from God, we ain't got no shadows. Don't settle for a shadow when you can be the light.
And sometimes when you make a decision to leave the place where God's called you to be, I mean, look at this guy. He was willing and notice, I'm getting ready to show you threatening leadership. What if we don't find it? "And if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon." That's threatening leadership.
Threatening leadership is something that we don't wanna have in the body. And so we are secure in the giftings. But all the trees, if you notice, are not the same. The olive tree, the fig tree, the vine tree, they all don't share the same gifts. But you must be secure in what God made you to be.
So if a musician has been called to be a musician, don't try to be a pastor. If you are a teacher, don't try to preach. Be secure. The olive tree is secure. Notice they say it: "This honors God and man." So the fig tree, in verse 11, was secure in his sweetness. The olive tree, in verse 9, was secure in his fatness, and the vine tree was secure in its wine.
And I'm asking you to be secure in whatever it is that God has called you to be. Be secure in it. Be okay with it. You know, we've had some great people ministering here today. But I am absolutely secure in who I am. You've got to be very secure in who you are. When you try to compete, you expose your insecurities.
And there's no need for you to try to compete except receive the honor that God has given you through the grace of God to be exactly who you are and, if you can function in the anointing that you have, there's nobody on the planet like you. There's nobody like you when you have the anointing on your life.
But, boy, when you step out of that anointing in an attempt to try to be like somebody else, it dishonors God, it eventually dishonors men, and what happens is you'll end up in threatening leadership. You'll start out, you'll have to threaten people to get them to stick with you and follow you. And you have to, you know, all kinds of threats, you know.
You know, "If y'all don't tithe, then you're gonna go to hell." That's not true. That's not true, you know? Non-tithers go to hell, that's not true. It's wrong. I know we all use it, but it's not true. You know, "The Bible says," uh-uh, you're reading it wrong. That's not what happens. That's not what happens. You know, tithing and you doing it is for your benefit. And I'm not gonna get into all that but that's not true. There's a lot of stuff not true.
"God's gonna get you, God's mad at you." That's not true. God's not even in a bad mood where you're concerned. But you imagine the type of things that we've pulled out the bag threatening people, you know? If, you know, if you don't do this then, you know, I put a curse on you. How you gonna be blessed, telling people you're gonna curse them if they don't do for you the thing that you wanna do? That is threatening leadership. There's something wrong with that leader.
Now, I need to let you know, I'm gonna begin to teach people to recognize wrong leadership and to leave it 'cause, really, the problem is we can't get a whole lot of things done because, I think it was George who said, because of these break-off ministries. Break-off ministries are just that. It was never called by God. It's a stillbirth break-off, trying to satisfy somebody's insecurity.
That they couldn't be successful in the world so they tried to be successful in the church because they thought that was the weaker place and then what happens is you take those eight or ten people and they could be a part of where they're supposed to be but they're trying to be loyal to you and they spend all their life, oh, serving somebody who's a bramble, somebody who doesn't even have the anointing to be in leadership.
Earl started this. We gotta have that conversation about people who don't even need to be in leadership. So anyway, let me finish laying my foundation. I need to finish this. Hebrews 13 and 17, well, I just want you to listen to this. Stay in Judges. I wanna finish this up in Judges but Hebrews 13 and 17 says something about us, the fact that you have folks that ruleth over you well. Put that up for me, Hebrews chapter 13 and verse 17. And in something I can see a mile away.
"Obey them that have the rule over you." This is not a control thing, now. Listen to me carefully. "Obey them that have the rule over you, submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they must give an account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."
And now we'll look at this word "Ruleth" because leadership, "Obey them that have the rule over you," it must be servant type of leadership. It's the servant leader that God wants to put in the lives of people. It's the servant leader.
You always have some leaders who want to have power and have it over other people. That's not God's plan for you to have power and control over other people. Because what you do is you paint this picture for the younger ones that are coming up and they think that's how you're supposed to do it.
Desire leadership so you can tell somebody what to do, so you can control people, manipulate people, and have power over people. God's give us authority over all the earth, over everything that's in the earth, but he's never ever given us the authority to control people. And that can't be a mark of your leadership. It has to be servanthood. You have to be that servant.
Your house needs leadership. Your children need leadership. But I'm learning that my leadership has increased because I understand that real leadership is serving. When I serve my wife, that's leadership. When I see opportunities where I can serve my children, that's leadership. And that doesn't even dawn on some leaders because they're so desperate to have control over somebody and that too represents an insecure inferior person.
When you're so hungry to try to dominate somebody else, that you don't understand the greatness of leadership is leading through my service, leading through how I can serve you. And then people follow that model and you begin to build a church of team players that are desiring to serve other people and it's not the idea of, you know, I'm trying to get somebody to follow me.
A real leader says, "I want to get somebody to join me." And so what are they joining? And so if you look at verse 14 and 15, still laying this foundation. It may take me two days to do this but verse 14 says: "And then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees," again, "If in truth you anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon."
And so some threaten to use fear or threaten to use ungodly leadership and leading through fear is gonna come back on you. You can't lead through fear because if you start leading through fear, what happens when people start fearing you enough, then they'll grow up to hate you. So you can't use fear to try to, you know, lead people. It can't be a part of what you do.
You know, "Well, you know, he's really a tough guy." No, he's a fearful guy that people are gonna grow up and hate one date and leave. Nobody wants to live under the threat of fear. Who wants to be a part of a church or a ministry under the threat of fear? You can't do that. Throw that out. It doesn't work. All it does, is it produces fearful people that follow you who will eventually become angry at you, who will eventually despise you because of you trying to lead them through fear.
And I'm not talking about the obvious fear. I'm talking about you can lead people through the fear of Scripture. You can take certain Scriptures and try to use those Scriptures to get people to fear things and their loyalty is not really a heart-born loyalty. It's the type of loyalty that fear produces which is not loyalty at all. And so you have to look at and examine is fear a part of my leadership.
And so Jotham in verse 18, he announces this. He says, "And ye are risen up against my father's house this day. You have slain his sons, all 70 of them," or 69 plus one who was Jotham, "upon one stone. You have made Abimelech, the sons of maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, and because he is your brother."
Verse 20: "But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, devour the men of Shechem, the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech. And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother."