Wednesday, January 30, 2008

For the lonely leader's heart club band

Received this from a friend and I thought many of you would relate to this in one way or another.
"God's leaders are not essentially leaders because of certain natural qualifications. . . They go to school with God, and in a hard school the kind of qualities required by God are inculcated. Another general thing about leaders chosen by God is that they while being very human, are, in many respects, a class by themselves They are pioneers, and pioneers are lonely people in more respects than one. In some ways they are difficult people. Their nature generally likes not to be disturbed, but would seek the easy way, the pioneer is often a bit too much for people. He is restless, never satisfied, always pressing and urging forward. The keynote of his life is 'let us go on.' His is not the easy way, and because human nature does want the easy way, the leader is not always popular. The whole nature of man is either downward or to a quiet and happy mean and snugness. The pioneer is therefore not always appreciated, but often very much otherwise. He is so much contrary to this mediocre gravitation. A part of the price of leadership is loneliness." (Sparks September 1962)

I think this quote from T. Austin Sparks is true in just about any area of leadership and I just want to focus in on one specific area - and that is the teaching of grace. It can be lonely at times. You preach to blank faces, and angry faces. You face rejection. You are the "difficult person" in the room, not because you're tactless or a jerk or self-serving or self-righteous, but simply because your honest heart speaks things that go against the flow of the norm, no matter how lovingly you do it. You are most definitely not always popular. But yet you cannot find it within yourself to compromise or sell out for even a minute, just to be accepted or at peace with everyone.

I'd like to borrow from a story I heard from Bill Gillham (Lifetime Guarantee) a while ago (using my own words, because I can't remember the exact words he used). One time somebody essentially 'accused' him of teaching "that easy grace stuff." Gillham's reply was that grace is by no means easy. It goes against the religious preeminence of the flesh.

I agree. Grace goes against the way people are wired by default. Grace is hard to accept and believe and trust, especially when the bewitchery of the foolish Galatian world is so prevalent in today's Christian culture.

However, when you've been released from the bondage of religion and you've experienced the freedom of true, pure grace, you know that you can never go back! You have a joy within you that sustains you and that cannot be defeated. You know that when you're sharing your heart with other believers who are entrenched in the dead works of religious duty, you have their best interests in mind, even if they reject what you are saying, or even reject you personally. And yep, it can be lonely but yet there is that peace and that joy within, and the knowledge that Jesus Himself, grace Personified, was rejected and scorned long before you were. He was despised, and yet for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God!

I just want to say that I'm thankful for the community of friends I've become acquainted with during the past few years through the internet, especially the friends I've met through Blogger and MySpace during the past year to year and a half. My life will never be the same because of you all! Although I haven't shared much about the lonely road that I've been on in my personal life (not in regards to true friendships, but in regards to sharing God's grace with my church friends), I can say with all assurance that my online friendships have truly helped to make the burden light and the yoke easy. Thank you!


  1. Dearest Brother Joel - may we consider it all joy! giggle.

    Keep on preaching our Jesus Crucified who was a stumbling block for the legalists (I Cor 1.23) and your words like Paul's will resonate (I Cor. 1.28-31) because God choose the lowly and despised things like His Grace so no one can stand proudly before Him in self.

    When you preach the Grace of Jesus keep in mind as you stare into some of those blank or hostile faces: 'The man without Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned....The Spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment - because you have the mind of Christ (II Corinthians 14-16)

    Yes these Grace treasures of His will cause trouble - but would your ignorance of His Grace and Love be bliss? (open laughter).

    By the way - I had the same hostility dumped at me when I was expressing these ideas at Seminary (a greenhouse of Christian leadership). It is a wonder how some smart people can be so . . . gotta love em- so I am told.

    your brother, in Jesus our Grace-full life, the Belmonite

  2. typo...should have been 1 Cor. 2.14-16) I need another coffee it is shortly after 6 am -

  3. Yo Brother of the Belmonites,

    Thanks for the encouraging word here (and for sending this to me in the first place)! :) Great scripture here to always remember. Whether our hearers are nice and polite or if they're angry and mean, we're speaking to brick walls as long as they are not spiritually discerning. All is not necessarily lost in those situations, however, because God's word will never return to Him void, but it will accomplish whatever He wants it to, and we may not even have a clue what He is doing with His own word in the hearts of those who are listening to us!

    It sure takes the pressure off to know that it's our job to teach and preach the truth, but it's not our job cause people to understand it or like it... or us. :)

  4. Your an encouragement to me brother. I was actually feeling this way today. Even among some relatives. Thanks for this word of encouragement.

    Everyone has an Everest to climb and the truth of grace hinders that goal and objective. This is why the message of the gracewalk is so hated and rejected. Everyone likes a challange and self gratitude and beaming emanation it gives when you are done with that goal. It is hard to cast our crowns at the feet of Jesus. Only by accepting grace can we do that.

    If they dont see you climbing Everest like you are then you are just not a team member and you better get on board or else. When you speak of this wonderful intimacy with the Father they find ways of pointing out the weak areas of your life that need to change and then say, "God called us to be fruit inspectors...are you sure your bearing fruit like I am?"

    It just goes on and on. When you speak of rest they thing you mean laziness and so all the works you are already doing with the joy of the Lord are just not good enough and then they warn others to watch out for you because you some guy that has an extreme view of grace. Even the pastors warn others that you are too deep for what God intended.

    I feel the same loneliness.

  5. Only Look,

    Thanks for sharing what's going on in your heart. This is something that we can all encourage one another in, and build each other up. When our loved ones reject us for giving them grace, it can be very disheartening. I've dealt with it in various ways, and I always appreciate my brothers and sisters in Christ who I can freely relate to in this.

  6. Thanks brother. My wife and I were watching Pastor Steve McVey this morning talking about not living by the teachings of the bible, but by the resurrection life of Christ. We understood what he was saying of course. Then we went to our upwards basketball tournament and a relative got up to speak on living by the Bible and it just went from one legalistic fear factor to another as he talked about being honest in business and she and I thought about how dishonest he has been and how we have actually been cheated by him with a smile on his face and told that we need to have forgiveness in our hearts. How ironic. She asked me what I thought and I just sighed and said, "I just have to accept that the teachings of the gracewalk were once resisted by me and that we are all growing and I just have to be patient about it."

    I told the director that I would be glad to give a testimony and a halftime devotional and he told me that he would contact me. He has not contacted me.

    It seems I am never able to express the whole counsel of what I believe without someone trampling all over it. Ah well, prayer to God is the only answer to break through these barriers of spiritual blindness.

  7. Amen and amen... we cannot be impatient with others because we know we once stood in their shoes. It's so disheartening when you are throwing them a life-saver, and their water is calm but they don't see the waterfall ahead. The second amen is because I agree that prayer is a wonderful thing in the midst of all this - loving intimacy with our Father, laying all this at His feet, so to speak, and resting in His love and sufficiency.

  8. Thanks brother. Yes, we were asked to volunteer as the director cannot find enough people for devotionals and so last week I offered at the anouncement. Perhaps he may still do so, but for now it is not so. Most of the time I am kept at arms length and tolerated with a loving pat on the back and some exhortations from other elders to do their best to show the love of Christ to me.

    If I ever do have a devotional then usually someone steps up behind me to counter act the grace news by saying we are to be obedient as Paul said "God forbid" when refering to going on in sin as though I am somehow encouraging people to sin or something by telling them to "Rejoice" and live a life of joy and freedom.

    You just cannot harmonize law with grace as too many just seem to resist and draw back by insisting that God did not come to destroy the if you are saying God wants us to live lawlessly or something.

    Thankfully we can lay this all at His feet for he knows what we crave from HIm in the Spirit.

    Grace upon grace,


  9. Yep indeed Brian, it's sad when people feel they need to counter or "balance" the truth. The truth just needs to stand on it's own, but I guess many people see grace as only 'partial' truth, or as only part of the story. Grace is the essence of the Christian life, and it can't be countered or added to or taken away from! :) We just need to keep on telling the truth, in love, and leave it in God's hands.