In Part 1 of Follow The Leader we looked at Jesus and some of His methodology in leadership. We saw how He kept moving even when people made excuses for why they could not follow Him.
In Part 2 we will look at the apostle Paul. Paul was one of the greatest leaders in the Kingdom of God, of all time. He poured his life out for Jesus and His Kingdom. He also did not compromise one iota in his quest to take the Gospel of the Kingdom around the world.
The apostle Paul said this amazing statement in 1 Corinthians 11:1 [KJV] ~ “Follow me as I follow Christ.” The NKJV says it this way, “Imitate me just as I also imitate Christ.”
There is so much to this verse one blog will not do it justice ~ but I will give it my best shot.
Instead of exegeting this verse from the beginning to the end I want to start at the end and move forward.
FYI, exegeting is the correct way to study the Bible. Exegeting means seeing what the verse says, or taking out of the verse what it means, as compared to eisegeting it which means reading, or putting into the verse what we think it says, or want it to say.
Jesus Christ is our role model for all of life and ministry. Kingdom leadership starts here because He is the Head of the church. The word ‘head’ is the Greek word ‘kephale / kef-al-ay’ and it means chief, supreme, most prominent. Depending on how the word is used it can also mean ‘originator’. The Hebrew equivalent of this word is ro’sh / roshe which means top, summit, chief, sum, sum total.
All things are summed up in Christ. He is the Head of the local and universal church. Christ is the standard-bearer and it is Christ who sets the standard, the pace, the method and the message.
His word is forever settled in heaven. He came and modeled Kingdom leadership for us. He was Paul’s role-model and He is ours as well.
Christ is the Supreme Leader. Christ has granted, or delegated, authority on every believer that is following Him. Yet, He has established a protocol where He has set some into His church as overseers. These leaders [overseers] have a tremendous responsibility.
Leadership is not easy, but it becomes especially difficult when it is based on the people following instead of the One leading. Kingdom leaders do not force people to follow them. Kingdom leaders follow Christ and their one goal is to lead people to Christ.
Follow or Imitate ~
This is what Paul was saying. “If you follow me you will find Christ because He is my goal.” Or, as the NKJV says, “When you imitate my lifestyle you can be sure it is like Christ’s because I am aiming for Him.”
“Following, imitating me is the same as following, imitating Jesus Christ.” This may sound egotistical to the casual observer but Paul was not bragging. Jesus Himself set the standard when He said, “If you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father.”
In other words, Jesus said, “Follow Me as I follow My Father.” We know that no one can come to the Father unless they go through Jesus. We have interpreted that to only mean getting to heaven. Please remember this for it is critical to all who name the name of Jesus Christ – The purpose of salvation is to get heaven on earth, not people in heaven.
Heaven is a dimension, not a geographical location. We are surrounded [amphitheater] about by a great cloud of witnesses [who are presently in heaven].
Every Christian, and most especially every Kingdom leader, has the responsibility to represent [re-present] Jesus Christ in His purity and His power.
You may be saying, ‘yeah but Jesus was perfect and I am not.” True, but we must realize that Jesus was tempted in every way just like you and me. The only difference is He never allowed the tempter to lure Him into sin. The temptations were as real to Jesus as they are to you and me. Not only did Jesus not allow the tempter to sway Him, Jesus said the tempter had nothing in or on Him. Jesus never allowed an individual or a crowd of people to sway Him. Jesus was moved by what He saw His Father doing.
Now, I don’t want to lose you here but I am about to throw a hair dryer into your bath water. Jesus was fully God AND He was fully man. Jesus could have sinned. Jesus lived His life on this earth like every other human being, vulnerable. He also lived a victorious life in every way possible.
Those statements were the warmup to the big one. Jesus Christ of Nazareth modeled what it is like when a human being lives in perfect harmony, and in right relationship with the Father, being led by the Holy Spirit, and without submitting to sin. In other words, as a human He could have sinned and He chose to honor His Father instead. Likewise, we do not have to sin, we choose to sin.
“Kevin, you are nuts!” No, actually I am not. In 1 John 2:1 we see these words, “Little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
John said he was writing to the believers so they “may not sin” and then he says “if anyone sins”.
“May” is a word that denotes giving permission or in this case giving in to something, or someone. “May” is Germanic in origin and it comes from a root word meaning “have power”. We have the power to sin or the power not to sin.
He goes on to say “if” anyone sins not “when” anyone sins. I know, Christianity is really not for the weak at heart. “If” denotes a supposition where the outcome is in doubt. In other words, we can’t know for sure until a decision is made. What is our decision? Jesus chose not to sin and so can we.
Flip Wilson, a now deceased comedian used to have a line in his act where he said, “the devil made me do it.” Friends, that is the epitome of a cop-out. We, as believers, and especially leaders, cannot cast off our responsibility to live as Jesus lived, in every way.
Thank the Lord He is on our side and defends us against the accuser, not against our Father, when we sin.
I’m not totally sure how I ventured down this road but while I am here let me remind us of what God said to Cain in Genesis 3:7 ~ “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
God never leaves us unprepared for the battle but we must step into it with the confidence of the Lord and submit to the Lord, resist the devil, and he will flee from us.
Ok, back to our subject of who is leading who.
We, who are Kingdom leaders, do have a great responsibility to lead those who are following us into the Kingdom lifestyle Christ Himself modeled.
Jesus was very interested in, and He is still very much interested in, every individual on the planet. But He also keeps the big picture in mind. What do I mean by that statement. What I mean is He does not allow the indecision, no decision, or the failure of a decision to deter Him from accomplishing His mission.
Paul was the exact same way. Paul was probably not the easiest person to be around. What we read in the Bible about Paul gives us reason to believe he was very intense. He and Barnabas nearly had a fist fight over John Mark traveling with them because John Mark left them on their first missionary journey.
As we saw in my blog titled IT’S AMAZING Paul took seriously the lack of leadership at Corinth when they refused to deal with open sin in the church. Paul was more concerned with the overall condition of the culture of the church than he was the individual who was in sin, or the leaders who were not providing Kingdom leadership.
He took them all to task for their compromise. Listen, threatening to turn someone over to satan is no small matter. I wonder how many church leadership teams would call someone into their office and say, “We are giving you the opportunity to repent. If you don’t we are turning you over to satan.”
Yeah, that is what I thought!
That is what true Kingdom leaders must do. The culture is more important than an individual. That may sound insensitive but as I stated in IT’S AMAZING, if leaders do not manage the environment then the enemy will move into the vacuum and create chaos.
Not every tough choice a Kingdom leader must make is about sin. Some of the tough choices have to do with fulfilling our call.
Jesus set His face like flint toward Jerusalem and He did not allow the enemy, or His disciples to stop Him.
Jesus was able to stay true to His mission because His mind had been made up before He faced the decision. Core values are there to make decision-making easy.
Paul said this about fulfilling his call. “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith” [2 Timothy 4:7].
Paul said he “fought a good fight.” We know that he fought demonic forces and he fought the Judaizers. The Judaizers were Jewish converts to Christianity who wanted the Gentiles to keep the Law of Moses. He also fought the Jewish religious leaders who wanted him dead. In spite of all of this opposition He remained true to his call.
“I have finished the course.” The writer of Hebrews, which some scholars believe was Paul, said that we were to cast off every weight and run the race with endurance that had been set before us” [Hebrews 12:1]. If there is a race then there is a race course. Paul stayed on course. He did not veer off course when popular opinion turned against him, and it did. Paul, like Jesus was not moved by crowds. Paul followed the Cloud!
“I have kept the faith.” Paul said he was true to “the faith”.
We have touched on this before. The faith that Paul kept, guarded, protected and spread was the same one Jesus proclaimed. It is the same one Jude, the half-brother of Jesus said needed to be protected. “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt it necessary to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” [Jude 3, 4].
Jude said this faith was “once for all handed down to the saints.” This faith was not supposed to be diluted through the generations that followed Jesus. You know how you can tell someone something and then they in turn tell someone else and they tell another person, etc. By the time a few people “heard” what was originally said it no longer resembles what was originally said. This was never supposed to happen to the message of salvation.
The writer of Hebrews says nearly the same thing in chapter two. “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard Him” [verse 3]. We have three generations here that spoke the message of salvation, or as Jude called it, “the faith that was once for all handed down to the saints.”
Kingdom leaders must preserve the full Gospel, not the parts that we don’t understand, or make people nervous, or what others believe to be obsolete. This is a great responsibility for Kingdom leaders.
The religious spirit of Babylon is always attempting to draw people away to a diluted message. The spirit of the antichrist attacks the work of the true Christ. There are still Judaizers wanting to pull us all back into the Law. There are even those who say that Saturday is the “true day of worship”.
I have done some research and I have not found one major move of God through any group that worshiped on Saturday. There may be one but I have yet to find it.
Paul kept the faith and in doing so he kept the flame going. He handed it off to men like Titus and Timothy. These were faithful stewards of the faith.
Who handed this message to us? What was the condition of the message when we received it? What are we doing to guard, or restore this message? Are we allowing public opinion to dictate to us what we are going to do with this message? Where does our ultimate loyalty lie?
All of these are questions that must be answered. Friends, the devil is in revival. The church of Jesus Christ cannot afford to have leaders that are afraid to have a Kingdom revival. Moves of God are messy. So are our nurseries but there is a ton of life in our nurseries.
If we have fallen prey to the forces that are aligned to strip the power away from the message of our King then it is not too late to repent and return to our first love.
The gifts and call of God are irrevocable. Jesus and Paul protected this faith until the very end. They, and I believe you can, and will run your race with endurance and finish your course.
For HIS Glory!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury