In our last Letter, we saw that just as Jesus lived His life by the life of His Father in Him, so we are to live our Christian lives, by the life of Jesus in us.
Christian leadership is only found in Jesus Christ. True leadership is not found in anything other than Him – in anything other than His Person – in anything other than a living, abiding union and fellowship with Him.
Christian leadership starts with Him. Otherwise, it is all worthless.
True leadership begins with Christ. Jesus, Himself, is the Foundation that must be in place in the leader’s life. The leader must know God and walk with God in a daily, experienced inward union and fellowship.
Jesus must be the Fountainhead of everything in your life and ministry. It all must proceed from a personal, daily, experiential relationship with the Lord Jesus.
Jesus’ disciples led out of their fellowship with Him:
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
Although Peter and John were untrained and uneducated men (cf. John 7:15), those around them marveled at their boldness and realized it was because they “had been with Jesus.” So it can, and should, be with us!
Abide in me, and I will abide in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must abide in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Only in Him can we bear leadership-fruit that is pleasing to God.
One of the first things Jesus did with His disciples was to teach them to pray:
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say… (Luke 11:1-2)
Apparently, John the Baptist had done the same with his disciples: he taught them to pray. Relationship with God must be first in a leader’s life. Our leadership is an extension of His leadership (1 Pet. 5:2, 4); therefore, our leadership must proceed from union with Him.
A leader who knows God:
- Will trust Him.
- Will be secure in Him. This is so important since leadership is filled with much painful rejection.
- Will have a vibrant prayer life in Him. Jesus’ prayer life was vibrant because He knew His Father; Paul’s prayer life was powerful because he knew Christ. Out of inward union with Christ comes the leader’s prayer life.
- Will love His people as He loves them.
- Will be united with Him in His sufferings, which will produce maturity, brokenness and faith in God.
Too often, unfortunately, Christian leaders are too busy with “ministry stuff” to spend sufficient time developing their inward lives in Christ.
Too many Christians are “familiar” with God and the things of God but they are not intimately united with Him on an ongoing daily basis. Knowing God, however, is not mere familiarity which often breeds contempt, but genuine union with Him.
The first revelation a Christian leader has should not concern any vision other than the revelation of the Person of Jesus:
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matt. 16:16-17)
This revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ will be the foundation for the whole of the leader’s life and ministry. All spiritual building must be upon this foundation: the revelation of the Person of Jesus. It is not merely facts about Him or about what He did. The leader must have a life-changing inner revelation about Jesus Himself.
In Jesus’ days there were many who followed Him, who even pressed upon Him and were healed, yet they did not “know” Him. They saw Him as a useful answer to some of their own needs, but they did not see Him as the Foundation of their lives and ministries. Similarly, many Christian leaders today try to use Christ to achieve their own ambitions.
The Father is very jealous for His Son. He will not allow any other foundation than the revelation of His Son. Any revelation other than the Person of Jesus will only distract from Him. Any source of leadership other than the Person of Jesus will only waste our time and energy. Jesus is to have the preeminence.
…that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Col. 1:18, NKJV)
In our next Letter, we will see that when a leader builds his inner life in Christ first, then his whole ministry will change.
Next Letter: Our Outward Ministry: The Reflection of Our Inner Life