In the 12 years of active, ‘full time’ leadership among God’s people I have had the joy and pain of learning one or two key life lessons that are critical in seeing the Kingdom of God made clearer in these days. Although my involvement in leading in various ways has not been extensive by way of time, God has been so gracious in bringing me up to speed with some of His ways when it comes to leading. Here is one truth that I believe has to be one of the most important …
In Matthew’s Gospel we find Jesus establishing the essentials of the Kingdom that He had come to initiate as He sat in the position of authority as He delivered the Sermon on the Mount. It was a key defining moment for Kingdom understanding and lifestyle, and still is. His very first statement is completely counter-culture for the people of the day and especially us today. We revel in our independence and celebrate those who have been gutsy enough to do things their way. Nowadays, we mock and ridicule the those who rely on others, whether it be a silent snub or verbal joust in public or private, but Jesus has other ideas when it comes to His Kingdom ways.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!”
What a revolutionary statement – the key to the satisfaction of Kingdom life is found in being utterly helpless and completely dependent on another. This is the essence of what Jesus is saying here. His comment has nothing to do with money but rather a disposition of the heart, and that of utter need! The implication is that in order for the fullness of Kingdom life we are to be completely reliant and dependent on the King, as His people. It also implies need and reliance on each other. Interdependence! On God first, each other secondly.
This has been the most wonderful lesson to learn – God has no issue with my natural limitations. Why do I? In fact, my mental, educational, ministerial limitations are no hinderance to the full life of the Kingdom being evidenced in me; rather, they are an opportunity for dependence, humility and surrender … all catalytic agents for more of God’s life. As soon as I learnt this in leadership it was so liberating … my inability was a moment of celebration of God’s Divine Ability. This only opened amazing doors for the miraculous, supernatural invasions of the Kingdom in so many areas of life. Not only did I see the evidence of Grace in this, but also the tapestry of Grace reflected in the many fellow leaders around me. Previously, my self dependence closed my eyes to the rainbow-coloured gifts and abilities in the many at my side.
Two amazing examples of this are found in two incredibly profound leaders in history, namely Abraham and Moses.
1.In Genesis 17 Abraham had finally arrived at the end of his ability to fulfill the promises of God for His life. Here he actually flings himself at God’s feet … a good place to be. His moment of inability was a moment of critical revelation and fruitfulness! In this moment of being ‘poor in spirit’ he received the revelation that God is indeed El Shaddai, Almighty God or more specifically God who is All Sufficient and All Bountiful! In Abraham’s moment of complete insufficiency was the moment of dependence on and revelation of God’s Supreme Ability! This opened the door to his and his wife’s name change (very important) as well as supernatural fruitfulness! Michael Eaton states of God’s name El Shaddai, ‘there is good reason for thinking that this name was especially used in contexts of human helplessness.’ Motyer himself states ‘El Shaddai is consistently used in Genesis to speak of God’s ability to transform human incapacity.’ Wow … inability, incapacity the door to transformation and fruitfulness!
2. In Exodus 33 Moses expresses powerfully that he is unable to lead in any way other than by being led by the very Person and Presence of God! He could easily have reverted to some pragmatic style of leadership yet his dependence was first on God Himself in Presence and Power. Verse 12 – 18 is key, please read it! A mighty leader, having seen truly powerful evidences of God in his leadership tenure did not depend on his own ways but honestly and dramatically threw himself on God’s Person, Presence and Power!! The effective, life-giving leadership of God’s people was found in a place of utter surrender and reliance on His Person not his pragmatic programmes!
I find this deeply liberating and inspirational. I do not need to be the very best at everything for fruitfulness and effectiveness in eldership to be evident. This is not a vote for slackness and a lack of due diligence in preparation as a leader, but rather an intentional posture of throwing myself at Jesus’ feet as I ready myself to lead, captain and govern. For too long we have settled for only that which we can do in our ability and people have gathered (or not gathered) too readily to Man; I want to see the evidence of only what God can do in the midst of His people in these days. I want to see the masses clamour to Him as we gather not to gizmo’s and gimmicky ecclesiologies! In His abilities revealed through our surrenderings is Life, Joy, Freedom and Kingdom. If that requires surrender, dependence and a godly celebration of limitation – count me in! If my acknowledgement of my personal parameters means more colour splashed creatively from the lives of gifted men and women around me – let me be the first to draw a line in the sand!
Here is to more of God in us, through us and with us, and more profound artistry reflected through those around us. Here’s to Kingdom fruitfulness and effectiveness as we Celebrate our Limitations by reveling in His Divine Ability!
Heaps of Love,