by Bill Lawrence, President of Leader Formation International
Fear not, the prophet says to the leader.
Even when everything goes well, fear dominates so many leaders and they are afraid.
In seasons of prosperity, we worry that financial security will go away unexpectedly. In times of health, we constantly seek to avoid illness. We tend to think that good times will fail suddenly, and bad times will last forever. In moments of safety, we anticipate accidents. When things go badly, we expect them to stay bad. In those moments, if we own a company, we shrink it as much as possible, break the lease in any way we can, cut as many workers as we think must, and get rid of as much debt as practical. We may not be very effective, but we’re safe.
It makes sense to think this way because our fears are often true, and fear is God’s way of calling us to seek His faithfulness. But why is it that we focus on what we cannot do, rather than what God can do? Is there another way to respond to the struggles of life beside fear? How about faith? Remember, it is one thing to be sensible, but it is another thing entirely to be fearful. We become fearful because we think everything is up to us. Silent trust is more valuable than self-trust. It’s up to us to solve our problems, it’s up to us to overcome our struggles, it’s up to us to make everything right. That’ what we say—and that’s how we fail.
Isaiah’s point is that nothing is up to us. Everything is up to the One who is with us and who works in and through us. We trust ourselves while we talk about God, but God wants less talk about Him and top trust in Him. Fear is either uncontrolled by us or totally in control of us, but it’s not trust in God. When we give up to it fear completely controls us, even when we pretend that we control it. Fear dominates everything, decides everything, and destroys everything. Fear, fear, fear, nothing but fear determinates everything and defines everything. Fear is the worst reality we face, much greater than the reality of God when we give into it and fail to trust our Lord.
Yet God says, “Fear not.” Why shouldn’t we fear? Because just as God restored ancient Israel when the nation changed its mind and repented, so He will restore us if we turn from going our way to living His way by trusting Him.
As leaders, we must face the tensions of life without fear and learn to see fear as a reminder that life is bigger than we are but not bigger than God is. Understand that fear has two dimensions, one that harms us and one that helps us. The harmful side of fear assumes that life is up to me, and I, as a leader, must overcome the struggles that we all face, but it’s more than we can overcome, and that’s why we are so afraid of being a leader. However, there is the other side of life and leadership, the side in which we must worship God as we fear Him because He is out to deliver us. This is the side we must show our followers as leaders, the side that moves all of us forward and takes us into deeper and deeper joy and fulfillment. This is when we discover that God acts on our behalf to enable us to overcome our struggles through His resources.
I AM is with us.
This is where God makes Himself known as the great I AM, and we can be free from fear when we remember that the great I AM is with is. Because of this we can think of the fear of God in a radically different way from how we often think of it. When we realize God is the great I AM we worship Him and recognize His greatness. We realize how much He is for us. When we truly recognize God’s greatness, fear does not relate to the hard times of being a leader, but to the greatness of God that helps us lead His way. He can guide us through the hard moments and use us to lead His followers—His followers—to move effectively through His intended hard ways. Or even the unnecessary but avoided hard ways we bring on ourselves. This means that fear refers to our reverence or awe that results in righteous behavior and the exaltation and wonder that brings to our lives. God is on our sides and His greatness is for us, so fear does not mean terror but triumph. Thus, when we say, “Fear not,” we do not speak of terror because it is against us but of confidence because God is for us, and we have nothing to doubt since this is true. We have no reason to fear life or what causes uncertainty in our lives. Remember that to fear God is not to be afraid of Him but to honor Him, to exalt Him, to praise Him, to raise Him up—and to depend on Him when we are utterly powerless. That is fruitful fear.
No matter what you face as a leader I AM is with you, beside you, behind you, under you, around you, and for you. He leads us out of the darkness of our sin and into the brightness of His grace You will never be on your own because the Jesus who died on the cross for you now lives in you and works through you as you trust Him. This is what makes all of us one of His leaders, one of us who leads His way in His will in all He does through us.
So, we say to all the Lord’s leaders,
Fear not for I am with you—but that means He is with
you, behind you, under you, around you, and for you.
Published on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 @ 11:28 PM CDT
He is growing you to be the kind of man or woman He wants you to be so you can make a difference for Him—the kind of difference Jesus would make, since He is the One doing it through you. That means that your church, your career, your position, your marriage or your children can be His means of transforming you from who you are to becoming who He wants you to be.
God is at work in you, not only because of what you do, but even more because of who you are becoming. After all, what matters the most to Him—what you do or who you become, especially as you become like Christ?
Isn’t what you do as a leader important to God? Of course it is, but if you think it through carefully, you realize that what you get done is God’s means to make you like Christ. He uses the experiences of your life to make you into His image to accomplish His purpose and fulfill His will.
So, God is at work in you, forming you to become the kind of person He wants you to be, a ministry or business leader like Christ, a man or woman who does what Christ would do if He were the leader of your church or your business or your movement or your mission.
Therefore, everything He wants you to accomplish has another major aim besides success. He not only wants you to get a deal completed, a building built, a business organized, or a successful ministry established, He wants you to grow on your way to become like Christ. He is growing you to be the kind of man or woman He wants you to be so you can make a difference for Him—the kind of difference Jesus would make, since He is the One doing it through you. That means that your church, your career, your position, your marriage or your children can be His means of transforming you from who you are to becoming who He wants you to be. It is true that He wants things done through us, but that’s not the end in itself. His ultimate intent for every one of us is that we should become like Christ through the issues we face in life.
Only God’s kind of person can be God’s kind of leader. There is only one way to become God’s kind of leader and that is to serve as well as to live His way.
How can you live God’s way? Only by understanding the Jesus way to live which He taught in the Gospels. Don’t just study information. Study how to live, and then learn to depend on Him because that’s the only way you can live the Jesus way. It is not only a matter of performing miracles as He did, but a matter of truth and love, endurance and patience, sacrifice and trust, shame and glory, death and resurrection.
We take His place in the world today. Are you ready for this? Who could possibly be ready for this? That’s why God is putting you in situations that can be carried out only through resurrection resources.
This is why you must grow to become God’s kind of leader—a Christ-like leader. A real leader.
Quite a task, isn’t it? A real task to make you a real leader.
Published on Aug 06 @ 11:04 AM CDT
For us this has the ordinary meaning of who He is, a statement of identity, but He means far more than that. He means I AM YAHWEH, the God of the Old Testament, the One Who Is, the Ruler of All, the Covenant Maker and Covenant Keeper, who delivered the nation out of Egypt and gave them the privilege of being His people...
I am the true vine
A long time ago, on the night before Passover, twelve men walked the narrow streets of ancient Jerusalem going from an upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane.
All of them were from Galilee in the north—fishermen, craftsmen, one tax collector—ordinary men with no value in the Roman empire, except for the tax collector. They were led by, of all things, a carpenter, though by the time they were together He was a recognized Teacher. He had attracted a handful of men who listened to what He said and debated it among themselves. They had a different understanding of what He was saying, but He was radical, and they were radical, so they listened to Him with expectation that He meant what He said. Eventually they would become as radical as He was, but not yet. Nonetheless, we need to understand His words to them in that upper room, today as much as they did if we are going to be used to make the difference He wants to make through us. Consider these few words.
I am the true vine.
For us this has the ordinary meaning of who He is, a statement of identity, but He means far more than that. He means I AM YAHWEH, the God of the Old Testament, the One Who Is, the Ruler of All, the Covenant Maker and Covenant Keeper, who delivered the nation out of Egypt and gave them the privilege of being His people. He is the One who met them at Mt. Sinai and made them into a nation, and who has kept His covenants with them. What it must have been like to walk along the streets of Jerusalem with Him after hearing Him declare that He was the Maker and Keeper of the New Covenant through the Cross.
He is the One who made the New Covenant, the only One who makes eternal covenants and keeps His word, the One who we can trust no matter what happens. Jesus, in John 15, is talking to His leaders, those who will speak for Him, equip others for Him, reproduce for Him, and who will prepare one generation after another for Him. We, as His leaders, must also lay the foundation for Him, bear fruit for Him, and matter for Him. These are the aspects that give us life, strength, and value, all the elements that make us leaders. There are many claims, but He is the only one who does what He does. The, a small word with an amazing meaning that speaks to us, His leaders, in the 21st century.
I AM THE TRUE
He is the true vine, the real thing, in radical contrast to all others who claim to be the true sources of life and success. Large numbers of leaders rely on false resources in the name of Jesus, and don’t even know they do that. The primary source of significance for many who lead is themselves. They do all the things they must do to become leaders, but what they produce is temporary, weak, without fruit, and then gone. Only Jesus does what is eternal, and He does this through us. No other vine can bear eternal fruit.
I AM THE TRUE VINE
He had to tell them this on His last night with them to prepare them for His departure and to get them—and us—ready for the Great Commission. This is part of the coming assignment.
Think about Jesus as the Stem in your life and ministry because He is the Source.
He is the Sustainer of your Life.
He is the Strength of your Life.
He is the Enablement of your Life.
He is the Stability of your Life.
He is the Fruit of your Life.
He is the Value of your Life.
He is the Identity of your Life.
He is the Reason for your Life.
He is the Hope of your Life.
All of this is what it means for Him to be our Vine. As a leader, we must be radically dependent on Him because HE IS THE TRUE VINE.
The only way you can be effective as His leader is to be radically dependent on the Vine for life and fruit. You can have position, recognition, honor, authority, and all the other elements that are part of leadership, but you will never bear His kind of fruit without His enablement. Draw on these truths and you will accomplish things you would never have otherwise.
Published on Jul 29 @ 12:25 PM CDT
God wants you to equip others in order to build your ministry, strength Christians in your business, or lead an organization or church that impacts your world with the gospel.
“. . . make disciples of all the nations . . .”
This is the start of several resources designed to help you grasp how you can learn what Jesus did to obey the Great Commission. The one aim of these concepts is to enable you to form leaders in obedience to Christ’s command to make disciples—that is, to reproduce leaders who reproduce leaders. This is exactly what Jesus did with the men He formed during His time on earth, this was His intent in giving this commission in the moments before He ascended onto His throne at the right hand of the Father, and that is exactly what the intent of the following materials are designed to do.
Reproducing leaders is the impact of an effective leader who wants to make a difference for Christ. A constantly triumphant leader produces constantly effective leaders. This is the essence of the Leader Formation message. Any leader who forms future leaders according to the biblical principles found in this truth will gradually produce effective leaders who will equip even more productive leaders. As a result, the body of Christ will do what God created it to do and reach the world with the Good News concerning Jesus. Your church will grow, your community will receive Jesus, your city will have many new believers in Christ, and your nation will be changed according to His will just as the Roman Empire was impacted after the cross and the resurrection. The leaders of Israel and the rulers of Rome both tried to resist God’s truth and destroy the body of Christ only to be overcome by God and replaced by the gospel. What happened in the first three hundred years of this era will happen today, even in the most resistant parts of the world, if only leaders will have the heart of Christ, a head that is influenced by God’s truth, and hands that are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The purpose of every Christian leader is to form leaders who lead this way.
God wants you to equip others in order to build your ministry, strength Christians in your business, or lead an organization or church that impacts your world with the gospel. This is what you can accomplish through this thinking because this is what I have seen in fifty years of forming leaders. I have certainly not done this alone, but I have seen the truths found in these studies work in amazing ways as many have learned them and implemented them through radical dependence on Him.
Published on Jul 10 @ 4:26 PM CDT
How do we become all that God wants us to be this year? What can we do to live 2020 in obedience to God and thus become a blessing to Him? Scripture instructs us to Bless the Lord and to Bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord Oh my soul...Bless His holy name
How do we become all that God wants us to be this year? What can we do to live 2020 in obedience to God and thus become a blessing to Him? Scripture instructs us to Bless the Lord and to Bless His holy name. God is a holy God and we are unholy, yet He wants us to bless Him. What does this mean? How can we possibly be a blessing to God? Does He want ordinary sinful men and women like us to bless Him? Yes, He does or He wouldn’t command us in His word to bless Him as He does. How do we bless Him? After all, He blesses us, we don’t bless Him, or do we? Consider some of the ways we can bless God.
By thanking Him for all that He has done...
We first thank God for salvation by which we are delivered from condemnation. We have been given a permanent relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All three gave themselves to give us eternal life. The Father released His Son for us. The Son gave His life on the cross for us. And the Spirit gives us His power by living in us. How can we do anything but thank Him? When we thank Him for all that He has done and is doing in our life, we will bless Him.
By trusting Him even when we don’t want to...
Life is painful at times, so we may become resentful and not want to respond to God. But He still wants us to bless Him even when we don’t feel like it. We may deny our faith as Moses did. He attacked God and accused him of doing evil. Imagine that—he called the sovereign holy God evil. Yet God used him and He made Moses the leader of His people. We may not be able to see or understand what God is doing in our life, we may feel that He is failing us, but we must still trust Him, remembering that He loves us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His own Son on our behalf. When we trust Him we will bless Him.
By worshipping Him even when we doubt...
Worship is an act of exalting God and being dependent on Him no matter what our circumstances. It is relying on Him in the midst of facing a powerful opponent and keeping our mind centered firmly on God alone. Worship is crying out to God and turning away from ourselves to focus only on Him. It is praising Him for who He is—His character, and for what He has done—His actions. It’s amazing, isn’t it, that God wants us, unholy and sinful men and women, to worship Him and be His people. As worshipping our great God becomes more and more a central part of our lives, we will lead others to worship Him as well.
Plan to improve your vision this year so it is 20/20. Not with glasses but by seeing God in a new light. Do what God wants you to do by thanking Him, trusting Him, and worshipping Him. In this way you will bless His holy name consistently, remembering all that He has done for you and all that He wants to do through you in 2020.
Published on Feb 14 @ 11:25 AM CDT
Rome ruled the world for centuries. Armies marched, kings were defeated, territory was taken, an empire was established, Caesars ruled, and taxes were demanded. At the beginning of the first century AD a Roman ruler, Caesar Augustus, passed a decree that a census be taken of all who lived in the Roman world.
Rome ruled the world for centuries. Armies marched, kings were defeated, territory was taken, an empire was established, Caesars ruled, and taxes were demanded. At the beginning of the first century AD a Roman ruler, Caesar Augustus, passed a decree that a census be taken of all who lived in the Roman world. This meant that everyone under Caesar’s rule had to return to their place of birth to be counted. At that time a man named Joseph, engaged to a pregnant woman named Mary, lived in a town called Nazareth on the eastern edge of the Roman empire. They were required to go to Bethlehem in Judea to be counted and eventually taxed for the empire’s benefit. They were two common people who had no wealth, no power and who did not matter except for their value as taxpayers. When they arrived in Bethlehem and found there was no room for them, Mary gave birth to her son in an animal’s stall and laid Him in a manger.
No one knew, of course, that the One born in that manger was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. No one knew that He would die for the sin of those who would take His life as well as for the sin of all who lived before and after Him, including we who live today in the twenty-first century.
It is at Christmas that we recall that the Light of the World was born into the kingdom of darkness in order to overcome the darkness of sin with the Light of God’s love. No matter where we live, whether it be in Asia, Latin America, Europe, Africa or North America, whether in Arabia or the Islands of the sea, all of us are citizens of one of two Empires: the kingdom of darkness or the Kingdom of Light. Christmas is a time of remembering the grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness of Christ’s compassionate sacrifice, given to all who accept it.
Jesus, whose birth we celebrate, had an unknown birth in order to be offered as a well-known sacrifice so we do not have to pay the price for our sin. If you know Him, praise Him and rejoice in His provision for you. Have joy because that’s what He wants you to have, as He said on the night of His arrest (John 15:11). Be thankful for all He has done for you and allow Him to bear fruit through you. Remember, He was born to die for the sin of all, from the beginning of time. Remember that He rejoices that we have trusted Him for what He has done for us.
And if you don’t know Him, now is the time to accept all He has done for you, for dying for your sin, for offering forgiveness for your disobedience, and for providing eternal life.
Christmas is a constant celebration of our deliverance from sin to the anticipation of eternity. Rejoice with Him for what He has done for you and make Christmas your way of life.
Published on Dec 16 @ 1:35 PM CDT