Recently, I heard a simple, yet profound, sermon from my Interim Pastor, Dr. Jerry Appleby. I asked his permission to share it with you;
The Country Gazette in Franklin, Massachusetts had this listing in its classified section: “Unknown item for sale. We know it’s valuable; we don’t know what it is. If you can identify it, we’ll sell it for $250.” That’s interesting. They had no idea what it was—but knew somehow it had value! It’s a shame Mike from American Pickers wasn’t there, I’m sure he could have told them exactly what it was and its value!
YOU AND I HAVE VALUE. However, the world doesn’t understand our value because – only the one who created us KNOWS what we’re worth. Our culture tries to make us believe that our value is determined by our family background— where we attended school—or what influential people we rubbed shoulders with.
But, I find these same people don’t value the life of an unborn child. Perhaps, they have never read Isaiah 44:2, “I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born!”
And Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had Holy Plans for you.”
A little girl was sitting on the lap of her grandfather. For the first time, the child was really giving her grandfather the once-over. She examined his wrinkled skin and his gray hair. “Grandfather,” she asked him, “did God make you?” “Sure, sweetheart.” Then she looked at herself. Smooth skin. Blonde hair. “Grandfather, did God make me?” “Absolutely!” he answered.” There was a moment of silence while she thought about the differences between the two of them. “Grandfather,” she asked, “don’t you think God’s doing a better job than He used to?”
Of course, that’s a humorous little story. The old phrase “God don’t make any junk” is still correct.
Each of us was LOVED and CHOSEN by God —even before we were born. That is one reason as Christ followers we are against abortion. God has already numbered that baby’s days and given it a unique CALLING in life.
ROMANS 8:28 is a solid promise, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose—not just when everything is going right. He can bring good out of EVEN THE WORST situations— for those who love God.
The key words in this verse are CALLED AND PURPOSE. We all are CALLED, and we all have a PURPOSE for being on earth. We aren’t here by accident. Your Calling is not your career— Your REAL CALLING is far more important than your career.
The Bible has countless people He called to be leaders who made a difference— and Nehemiah is a good example:
In 586 BC the City of Jerusalem was destroyed, and the people were taken slaves and moved 1000 miles to Babylon (Iraq today). Nehemiah was born in captivity, but despite this, he grew up to be the cup bearer to King Darius or Artaxerxes.
Nehemiah had never been to Jerusalem, but he knew how important this city was to the Israelite people. All of his life he had heard the story how the Babylonians defeated his home country— now about 70 years ago. While most of the people had been moved to Babylon, a few were left in the broken city. One day, his brother returned from a visit to Jerusalem—to check on relatives— and Nehemiah heard first hand the terrible conditions people were living in. The walls were still not repaired, and invaders plundered their food supplies. He became so upset he wept and prayed for several days. Then he began to feel God was CALLING him to go and help repair the walls of Jerusalem!
Just imagine that God called him when he had the number two position in the Kingdom of Persia. He was willing, but knew it would take miracles for him to get permission— so he prayed and fasted for several months. There was one hurdle after another. He got the king’s permission, but when he arrived in Jerusalem he had to convince the people that God had sent him! Finally, everything was ready, and he was able not only to lead the people to rebuild the walls but to fight the raiders who opposed their project. This enormous venture was finished in an unbelievable 52 days! A willing leader and a God of miracles make all the difference.
Leadership has absolutely nothing to do with titles or position. Sometimes a person thinks because they have a title, people will follow them—but that’s not necessarily true. Many people have authority —zbut they don’t have leadership. Every time you influence somebody, you’re assuming leadership. Let me said that age has nothing to do with leadership. Young people, you make great leaders.
There’s a story of a mother who decided to give her little boy a leadership opportunity. The family had guests over for Sunday lunch— on a hot summer day, “Johnny,” his Mom said, “why don’t ask the blessing before we eat?” Johnny decided to act shy and said,”I don’t know how ” But his mom persisted. “Oh, yes you do—Why don’t you just say what you’ve heard me say?”
Johnny smiled and prayed: “O LORD, why did we have to invite these people over on a day like today!”
We are all leaders, but the issue is “Are you a good or bad influence?” Every day we all have the opportunity to influence someone. The only question is whether you will do it to the glory of God —-or to the benefit of yourself.
You may say, “I’m a follower.” Listen to this— Leaders are MADE, not BORN. There is no one particular personality group that God chooses leaders from. Leaders are all different —and have different personalities. Some are more goal- oriented and pursue it with determination —while others are naturally relational and love to spend time interacting with people. It takes all kinds of leaders to build a ministry.
But God does require that a Christian leader must have CREDIBILITY AND CHARACTER. D.L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark when nobody is looking.”
Why DID GOD CHOOSE NEHEMIAH AS A LEADER?
1. He was SENSITIVE to the needs of others. Even though he was at the peak of his career —when he heard how God’s people were suffering, he didn’t hesitant. Checking our own sensitivity from time to time is good. When we turn on our T.V and see the horrific things that are happening— can we feel the pain of other people and pray for them. God uses people who care about the things He cares about.
2. He was TRUSTWORTHY. Even though he was the son of Israeli slaves the Persian king had given him the 2nd highest job in the country. But, we know that God had a purpose and plan for his life and was working out the details.
3. He was DEPENDABLE. One of the ways God tests us to see if He can use us as leaders—is to look at how we serve under another person’s leadership. Dependability is more important than ability.
4. He was AVAILABLE. When there was a need— Nehemiah said, “I volunteer! Send me!” He already had the job everybody else wanted. Even though he wasn’t a contractor, he said, “I’ll go rebuild the wall!”
All of us are on a spiritual journey to fulfill the mission God gave us even before we were born. I believe if you let the following suggestions, taken from Rick Warren, be a guide—they will help you as you develop your leadership skills.
6 BIBLICAL VOWS GREAT LEADERS ARE WILLING TO MAKE- Rick Warren
1) Vow to maintain integrity.
“Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14) You need to be transparent. A person of integrity is not claiming to have it all together. On the contrary— the person of integrity is willing to be open about their strengths and weaknesses. Having integrity also means living what you say you believe. All leadership is built on trust—Tell the truth, even when it’s tough.
2) Vow to forgive those who hurt you.
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up” (Hebrews 12:14-15). Leaders forgive those who hurt them. You will be hurt in ministry. It’s going to happen. It’s a given. You will be hurt both intentionally and unintentionally. You will be hurt by those who recognize what they’re doing and those who don’t. You cannot be in ministry without being hurt. If you allow bitterness to build, it will choke your heart for God and your love for people until your heart just shrivels. Forgive when every bone in your body wants to retaliate.
3) Vow to relax and trust God.
“Anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter into God’s rest” (Hebrews 4:11) You need to be concerned about the people around you, but, you’re not God. You can’t bear everybody’s burdens all the time. Ultimately, God is responsible for everyone’s need. Pray about everything. Read God’s Word and meditate on His promises. Remember what God has done in the past when you’re tempted to let stress overwhelm you. Surrender your concerns to HIM.
4) Vow to be an encourager.
“Let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19). God has called you to be an encourager, not a discourager. Look beyond the problems and look at the potential of those you lead. People get discouraged— you need to be a source of encouragement. Let individuals who feel hopeless know they can do it. Be a voice of support in your community, your church, and your home.
5) Vow to be a peacemaker.
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). One of the most important jobs in the church is to promote unity. Not everybody is like you, but everyone has something to contribute. The perspective of those who see the world differently can add something good to the ministry. You can walk hand-in-hand without seeing eye-to-eye on every issue. God can overlook some things, but He will not bless a divided church.
6) Vow to never stop growing.
“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive…” (2 Peter 1: 5-8).
Learning is the lifestyle of leadership. The moment you think you know it all, you’re dead in the water. Always look for ways to keep growing in your character and your skills. Take a regular look at yourself. Where do you need to grow? What do you need to learn?
One evening while a man was driving down a country road, he lost control of his car and landed in a ditch. He walked to the closest farm house and asked for help. The farmer said, “Sure. Let me hitch up Dusty and you’ll be out in no time.” A few minutes later the farmer appeared with Dusty, an old, swaybacked, almost blind mule.
After Dusty was hitched to the car, the old farmer cracked the whip and said, “Pull, Buck, pull!”
Nothing happened, and the stranger looked around for a mule named Buck. There was only Dusty, who wasn’t moving. The farmer cracked the whip again and said, “Pull, Clyde, pull!”
The stranger took another look, but there was still only one mule —that mule’s name wasn’t “Clyde.” Nothing had happened— so the farmer cracked the whip again and said, “Pull, Dusty, pull!” Dusty began to pull until finally the car was out of the ditch. The man thanked the farmer, then said, “But I’m curious. If your mule’s name is Dusty, why did you say ‘Pull, Buck’ and ‘Pull, Clyde’? That didn’t make sense!”
The farmer said, “Well, you know Dusty’s old and he doesn’t see too good, and he doesn’t have much confidence. Why, if he thought he had to do all the work himself, he’d never even try.”
You don’t have to do it by yourself, either. Of course, the same God who helped Nehemiah is available to us. But so is our entire congregation ready for service.
The greatest asset is that you love God and you love your church family. God will continue to move us forward to be what kind of leader He needs you to be.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
Sharing His Wonder,