That One Coach or That One Teacher That You Remember To This Day: What Was It About Them?

Posted: January 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

Luke 9:1-6 — For those of us who have played sports in our lifetime can easily look back on a coach whom you still admire to this day, a coach that both inspired you and demanded more of you than you though you ever had in you. For those of us who are adult now, there is that one teacher from school that you remember the same way. They demanded so much of you. They pushed you harder than you’ve ever been pushed before. Yet, at the same time, you admire them, love them, and thank them for what they taught you to this day. That’s what real leaders are like. They push you but they encourage you. They move you beyond where you were before you met them. They build your confidence in yourself because they set high standards and help you achieve them. For me that coach was Harold Middleton, the coach of a bunch of rag tag church league 12-13 year olds who he molded into a real team, a team I still remember to this day, a coach I still admire to this day. For me that teacher was Mrs. Wayner, my 11th grade English teacher. She taught me more about writing and expressing myself and about handling pressure situations than any teacher I ever had. She demanded much of us but she encouraged us and we were equipped for college when we left her class at the end of the year. It was both the hardest and the most rewarding class of my young life to that point. I still thank Mrs. Wayner for the love of writing that she gave me, the ability to express myself with words in a world that has forgotten how.

We all have those key people that have crossed our paths in our lives that were great leaders for us. People that made us into who we are today. Leaders who cared. Leaders who made a difference and changed the direction of our lives. Leaders who taught us. Leaders who encouraged us. Leaders who gave their all to make us leaders ourselves. Jesus demonstrates that He is the greatest leader of all. He is the leader that we should aspire to be. In this passage, where we will spend a day or two, we see Jesus’ leadership style.

He empowered His disciples. It says in this passage that He gave His disciples power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Isn’t this an awesome testimony to Jesus’ leadership. Jesus gave away His authority. That’s the only way we make disciples. Many leaders are so hell-bent on keeping their power that they do not empower their own people to make decisions on their own. One of the themes that our senior pastor at my church has this year is “maximum involvement”. He wants as many people as possible who attend our church to be involved in the mission of our church. As leaders of the church, he expects us to increase the circle. He expects us to empower others to lead. The bigger the leadership base of our church is the stronger the church will become. The more disciples we make the more people we can reach. The more disciples we make the more disciples they can make. The ability of a church to remain viable over the long haul is its ability to generate new disciples, new leaders. If we doggedly keep power to ourselves, we become a cult of personality rather than emulators of Jesus. Jesus empowered His disciples. If he had not done that, you and I would not be Christians today. If He had not done that, Christianity would have fizzled out within 20 years after Jesus’ death. He did that though and Christianity permeates the globe. Regardless of what religion it is, they all have to have a position on Jesus because Jesus made disciples who made disciples who made disciples.

Another mark of his leadership was the fact that He gave them specific instructions on how to carry out His mission. He had been training them and then He sent them out with a very specific idea, a very specific mission. In doing this, He gave them a taste of what their task was going to be after He was gone. He continued to do this throughout His ministry with them. He gave them specific instructions for what their tasks were to be. He gave them very clear expectations. They knew exactly what the definitions of success were and what they had to do to achieve their task. Have you ever had a boss that was never really clear about his/her expectations and then would get upset when you did not achieve what he/she expected. As leaders in the business world and in our churches, we must be be very clear about what we expect from those we lead. We must be certain that they know what they have to do. Just as a good teacher in a classroom will define their homework expectations for tonight to their students before they leave class. Jesus made sure His guys knew the task. He trained them for their tasks and then sent them out to do it. Let us as leaders learn to give our people clear expectations. Never expect people to know what’s exactly in your mind. Explain it in the simplest terms. You watch as I teach. I advise as we do it together. You do it yourself. That was how Jesus led. So, should we. If we are going to get maximum involvement with maximum effort in our effort to reach the maximum people with the gospel message, we must develop disciples who fully understand how to carry that out as it plays out in our local churches.

The final mark of leadership that we will look at today that Jesus displays in this passage is to teach a disciple on how to handle adversity. A great leader teaches us that hard times, difficult times will come. A great leader teaches us that times will be difficult and that you want to give up but that we must keep our eye on the prize. The wind sprints that Coach Middleton put us through made us want to throw up sometimes. The running up and down the bleachers would wear us out to the point we would fall on the floor in exhaustion. And all of that was before we would even hit the court to run plays and take foul shots. We thought he was a madman at times. But, the funny thing was in games we were prepared in the fourth quarter. When the other team was wore out, we took over games. When games were tough and we thought we were out of it, Coach would remind us that that we survived the wind sprints, we could find our way back to victory. Jesus told His disciples that they may run into cities that would completely reject them. He told them how to handle it. He told them to move on to the next town. He told them that just because they were His disciples that it did not mean that success was going to greet them in every town. He prepared them for the hard times. He made them ready through training. He gave them the knowledge and power that they needed but He also prepared them that not everyone was going to be eager to hear their message. He prepared them that it was going to be tough at times and that they should remember not to give up and return with their tail between their legs. They should keep pushing on through. He gave them their wind sprints and their bleacher climbs so that they would be ready for the tough times. In it all, He was encouraging them that it they would come out on the other side of their task a better disciple. They had been sent into action prepared for the possibilities by their leader. He, like Mrs. Wayner preparing me for college, gave me the skills I needed and the courage to do what I thought was impossible. Jesus equipped them for what they would encounter. That my friends is the kind of leaders we need to be. Preparing. Training. Equipping. Encouraging. Being real about the fact that it is not always all good times. Some times ministry is hard work. Sometimes it is thankless. But we do it for the glory of God. We keep pushing on through because our leaders who taught us equipped us with spiritual wind sprints and bleacher climbs for the hard times.

Father, help me to emulate my Savior Jesus Christ, the master of all leaders when I lead others. Help me to make disciples who are equipped for their tasks. Help me to encourage them to lead on their own. Help me to give my leadership away. Help me to prepare them for the tough parts of leadership. Help me to lead like Jesus led. Amen.


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