Posts Tagged ‘discipling vs. leading’

2 Samuel 15:1-12
Absalom’s Rebellion

In every stop along the way that God places us in ministry there are things that He wants us to learn. In the three churches that I have been involved with since my salvation and then the steady road to full-time ministry, there have been lessons to learn.

At Livermore Alive Community Church in Livermore, CA, the lesson was that we must be obedient to God’s Word in every aspect of our lives. We must make God more than a box that we pull out and play with on Sundays. Being a Christ follower is a full-time thing not just on Sundays. We must integrate God’s Word as the measure for everything that we do. We must have a real relationship with Jesus Christ and let Him be the prism through which we view our actions. We cannot pick and choose what we want to believe when it comes to God’s Word. We must accept it all and be obedient to it because otherwise we are not being obedient at all. It’s all or nothing.

At LifeSong Church in Lyman, SC, the lesson was about leadership. Making that step from participant to leader requires great commitment. It requires getting off the couch and doing whatever it takes to spread the gospel. Leadership requires sacrifice. Leadership requires understanding your assignment and breaking it down into achievable parts. Leadership requires that people understand that you are for them and you are not asking them to do anything that you would not do yourself. Leadership requires loving the people under your care. Leadership requires loving what you do and doing all the background work that no one sees. Leadership requires you to be passionate about what you do. Leadership requires the ability to submit to those who are leading you as well. Leadership requires you to be passionate about the mission of the church. You take ownership of the church and not just sit around and say they. They should have done this or done that. It requires you to truly care about getting people to understand the “why” of what you are doing. Man, the things that I learned about being an ever-maturing Christian and Christian leader at LifeSong was immeasurable.

Here, now, at Calvary Church in Moline, IL, the education continues. I have only been here about 4 ½ months now but one thing has become clear already. Who knows what the overarching theme of my time will have been while here whenever my work here is done (which I hope is not till I am ready to retire). However, for now, the lesson is about transitioning simply from being a leader to a discipling leader. Everything previous to Calvary was preparation for me being ready to learn the lesson for me at this place. The lesson of this place so far is that everything is about relationships. First off, as a pastor, I must have a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. If that is not honest, clean, and clear, nothing else matters. Secondly, you can only truly and effectively lead people is through deep and abiding relationships. I may not be ready to be one of “the stage pastors” just yet but what I should be investing in is people and my relationships with them. I must get to know the lay people that I work with. I must understand them at the soul level. I cannot truly lead people if I do not have relationship with them. I cannot truly ask them to go above and beyond their comfort zone if they do not understand that I truly and deeply care about them. I cannot simply see people as a means to an end. I must be able to sacrifice efficiency for relationship. Any task or project that I take on at church must be with an eye toward discipling people to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything that I do as a leader must be viewed through that prism. Every aspect of running a church is an opportunity to disciple. Being a leader means having the people that follow you or who are in your sphere of influence know that you genuinely do love them. If I learn nothing else in the coming years at Calvary, this is the foundation of all else that I will learn here. We must about the business of “loving people to life” (our church slogan). Loving people to life means that it starts with love. How can we move people along in their walk with Jesus if they do not know that we love them. Loving is an action word. It means that you have to get into their lives and be a part of it. Loving them to life means that we are guiding people to discover their true purpose in life through a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Jesus. That’s the basis. That’s the filter. Even in the business of the business of the church, we can disciple. Even in the business of the business of the church, we can love people and make sure that they know that we deeply care about their lives. That’s the lesson. That the foundation. Relationships.

In that idea of progressively growing into the leader that God wants me to be, I have learned that leadership is meaningless without true relationships with the people that we lead. That’s what I thought about this morning as I read through today’s passage, 2 Samuel 15:1-12. The reason is that in just reading this passage you get the sense that Absalom has something other than what God is teaching me. Let’s read it now together:

Chapter 15
1 After this, Absalom bought a chariot and horses, and he hired fifty bodyguards to run ahead of him. 2 He got up early every morning and went out to the gate of the city. When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where in Israel they were from, and they would tell him their tribe. 3 Then Absalom would say, “You’ve really got a strong case here! It’s too bad the king doesn’t have anyone to hear it. 4 I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice!”

5 When people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn’t let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and kissed them. 6 Absalom did this with everyone who came to the king for judgment, and so he stole the hearts of all the people of Israel.

7 After four years,[a] Absalom said to the king, “Let me go to Hebron to offer a sacrifice to the Lord and fulfill a vow I made to him. 8 For while your servant was at Geshur in Aram, I promised to sacrifice to the Lord in Hebron[b] if he would bring me back to Jerusalem.”

9 “All right,” the king told him. “Go and fulfill your vow.”

So Absalom went to Hebron. 10 But while he was there, he sent secret messengers to all the tribes of Israel to stir up a rebellion against the king. “As soon as you hear the ram’s horn,” his message read, “you are to say, ‘Absalom has been crowned king in Hebron.’” 11 He took 200 men from Jerusalem with him as guests, but they knew nothing of his intentions. 12 While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, one of David’s counselors who lived in Giloh. Soon many others also joined Absalom, and the conspiracy gained momentum.

In this passage, we see that Absalom’s political strategy was to steal the hearts of the people with his good looks, grand entrances, apparent concern for justice, and friendly embraces. Many were fooled by Absalom and switched their allegiance from David to him. Later, as we shall see in the coming passages, Absalom proved to be an evil ruler. The lesson for us from this story is that we need to evaluate those we follow to make sure that their charisma is not a mask covering deceit and a hunger for popularity and power. We must make sure that underneath their style and charm they are able to make good decisions and handle people wisely and not just use them to achieve their own personal desires.

Absalom reminds us of some leaders in churches and secular organizations that are:
(1) so focused on accomplishing tasks that they see people as chess pieces to move around and not as real, flesh and blood. They want to get the job done and if people get their feelings hurt along the way they just need to “suck it up, buttercup!” They are focused on their own batting average rather than discipling people. They value project completion over people development. They do not see relationship as the most important thing. They do not see that people will follow those that truly care about them as people. The job’s the thing to them. Burned bridges and dead bodies are strewn everywhere in the path of such a person.

(2) So focused on achieving their personal ambitions that they will do and say anything to get the prize that they are after. They use people with impunity. They are often eloquent and well spoken and say things that sound pretty but yet on the inside they are arranging sequences of events so that they stand tall at the end of the battle having achieved their desired outcome. People are just a means to an end. Relationships are only used to arrange the checkers on the board in the sequence that allows them to make the sequence of jumps that gets them crowned.

What kind of leader do you think that Jesus wants us to be? Jesus is in relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit and has been since before time began. Eternal, deep and lasting relationship is what Jesus has with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Their deep, agape relationship is the basis for everything in the universe. The universe itself was created through this deep and abiding relationship of the Trinity. God was so interested in deep abiding relationship that he created man for that purpose. Even in our screwing that up in the Garden, God set forth a plan to redeem the fallen into a relationship with Him through His Son. God so loved the world that He sacrificed his Son for our sins so that we could be in real relationship with Him. He loved us that much. So, by God’s own example of loving, deep and abiding relationships and caring about relationship and pursuing relationship no matter what it cost Him, we must do no less as leaders of the church. Everything must be about loving relationships. Everything should be about loving people to life. Everything should be about getting into the mess of the lives of the people that we are loving to life. In that, we give God glory. In that, we emulate God’s plan. In that, we emulate Jesus’ own discipleship of twelve men who changed the world. It’s all about real relationship. It’s all about loving people to life.

Amen and Amen.

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