WISE INTENTIONAL LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Volume 13, Number 5– MAY, 2019
Greetings. I hope and pray you had a blessed Easter. This month’s leadership article follows up what was shared about Barnabas last month. We need more Barnabas’ who are willing to not worry about what level of notoriety one receives on this side of heaven and invests in others, especially our younger generations. Movements of spiritual change and His Workings so often have begun with young people. May we be found faithful raising up the next generations of biblical leaders by our willingness to invest in them. Thanks. Mike
BARNABAS (part 2)
Barnabas was in the regular ministry business of developing people which included a relative of Barnabas, John Mark. For whatever reasons, John Mark chose to leave the Barnabas-Saul team and returned to Jerusalem (Act 13:13). Something happened to not just John Mark but in the dynamic of this leadership team. Saul’s name was changed to Paul, and Paul was now being mentioned before Barnabas’ name.
How many of us could handle such a change, going from the lead to the back up guy? We could handle Paul getting more stage time and reviews than us as long as our name showed up first in the promotional information that went out ahead of the preaching rallies. But when our name was being listed second and Saul even had a name change at the same time he was being listed first, could our egos handle such change? When others in our communities and denominations get more accolades than we do, how do we feel and react?
Barnabas was willing to become less for the sake of the Kingdom of God. He was willing to play a different role when it meant more notoriety and preaching time for Paul, who was living for the glory of God. Seeing how gracious Barnabas was in this transference revealed his character and commitment to the Savior’s glory. Barnabas was more concerned for Jesus’ legacy than his own.
To be honest, most of us enjoy being recognized for what we have accomplished in the ministry God gave to us. It makes us feel good that people see how we have been used by God. I have to ask myself, if I received no recognition for the faithful work I am involved in, would I be okay with that? Or would I have the need to get my name in the press release somewhere? Do I need to make sure my name showed up in the news print or that I get my face on the television, so people would see that I was a part of what God was doing?
Would I be faithful to God just as much if I knew I would never be known about, other than to God, for the work I have been given responsibility over? If and when we mentor and develop someone, there comes a point to release that person to hopefully do greater ministry than what we accomplished; do I have the humility to do that?
One huge pitfall of leadership is pride. Potentially we wrestle with this pitfall often. Anytime power over people occurs, pride is right there prying its way into our minds and hearts. Barnabas fought that attitude and graciously handed the reigns of the ministry over to Paul, to take the ministry God had entrusted to them to greater heights and lengths because of Paul’s skillset and influence. Barnabas had accomplished his responsibility of molding and shaping Paul as the Spirit led Barnabas to do. Now it was time for Paul to fly.
We know about the disagreement Paul and Barnabas had over John Mark (Acts 15:36-40). Barnabas had invested in someone that failed. But that was not the end of the story. The two parted ways and Barnabas continued to develop John Mark to the point that Mark had a major influence in the New Testament. In later years Paul sought John Mark out to be one of his major disciples.
Would Mark had made it without Barnabas’ consistent encouragement and discipling? Only God knows that answer. The point is Barnabas continued to see the potential in John Mark and God greatly used that man to impact the early Church and all of Christianity to the present. Barnabas got out of the way of his own ego so that God would use Barnabas for His Kingdom and glory, no matter how much news print Barnabas would not get. God wants to use us for His Kingdom; are we willing to be used the way He wants to use us? We do not need a title to be a Kingdom influencer for God’s glory!
WEIGHTS AND SINS – EXHAUSTION
Too many “burdens” to carry. Frustrations and distraction result as you lose your focus. Doing too much and also having too many activities or responsibilities you are good at but are not the best things you do, will become burdens like weights.
Before the advances of weight equipment in recent years, during practices, athletes would place bags of sand around their ankles and sometimes their wrists to build up endurance and stamina. When it was game or race time, these bags were laid aside. Today equipment and jerseys for game competitions are lighter, so to reduce the weight placed on the athlete, in order to be able to allow the body to focus one’s strength and endurance on the competition rather than on one’s body.
Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us that our Christian life is like a race, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
From Hebrews 11, we learn about believers in Jesus who many years ago, lived a life of faith and glory to Jesus. Many died for their faith. It is as if these believers are in the stands of a stadium watching us who are on the floor of the stadium living life. They are the crowd of witnesses cheering us on.
As we are in our race of the faith today, our instructions are to lay aside or literally take off any weights that would cause us to slow down, to become exhausted or cause us to want to quit running the race of our faith. In addition, we are to get rid of sins that so easily trip us up.
What good things in life slow you down spiritually? It could be a habit, a hobby, a relationship, a job, or even doing a lot of good things, being so busy doing things for Jesus that we forget to keep Jesus as our top priority. Doing good activities will not get us into heaven nor have Jesus pleased with us. The only way we get into heaven is receiving the gift of what Jesus did on the Cross for us, his dying and paying the penalty of our sins, our wrong doings. If we truly believe in that message, we will turn away from wanting to do our sins and seek to live life like Jesus.
Additionally, it is not what we do that pleases Jesus, it is who we are in Him and our pursuing of becoming more like Him. So any good thing that keeps us from becoming more like Jesus, needs to be set aside. There are a lot of good things that we can do but when we lose sight of internally wanting to be more like Jesus, those good things become a detriment.
When you are training for a race or a sport, in order to be the best you can be, you have to give up some good things to include certain foods, activities that would keep us from training and some other very good pursuits of life that would hinder our developing to be the very best we can be. For example, when in sports, you may only be able to hold down one job rather than two. Or as a student, you may need to do your homework rather than spend the whole night hanging out with good friends.
Notice regarding sin, it is not specific. That is because we individually have sins in our lives that we are more susceptible to than others. Some of us really struggle with gossip, with pride, with lust, with greed, or different sin. Just as Satan moves around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour believers, sin is like a trap that a hunter would us to capture one’s prey. You step onto a spot that looks okay and wham!, the trap closes and has you in its grips, and you can not get away.
Figure out your blind spots, that good things that are hindering your relationship with Jesus and those sins that you are susceptible to. Ask a good, honest Christian friend or mentor what your blind spots could be. Then lay them aside so you can run your Christian life well.