6/20/2010 ~ Today was Fathers' Day as I visited The Grace Tabernacle Church in Fort Walton Beach, FL
This morning I attended a church I'd passed hundreds of times going over the bridge at Cinco Bayou in FWB. I fact it's in a large plaza where I rent my Hertz 'Ride' for the week-end political events.
The exterior of this lovely chapel is incredibly un-assuming. But just look at the interior! The moment I sat down in the deep comfortable seats and noticed the sloping floor, I realized I was in a converted movie theatre.
Unfortunately there were only about forty people in attendance and word was that Senior Pastor Dr. David M. Malherio was recovering from major surgery, so The Message was given by a substitute preacher.
The sermon is summarized below, but I thought this verse in the weekly handout, about parents, was particularly apropos. So here it is first:
TRIBUTE TO FATHERS
"'Honor your father and mother.' This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, 'you will live a long life, full of blessing.' And now a word to you fathers. Don't make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord. EPHESIANS 6:2-4."
THE MESSAGE: "Developing A Leader." (A summary, adapted & edited from the sermon given 6/20/2010 at Grace Tabernacle Church, FWB; referencing Mark 10:31-45, etc.)
This is a challenging thought: everyone is a leader. Every father for example has influence on others, including wife, children and co-workers.
And today I have come to influence you with the power of The Holy Spirit. Now you must ask God what He wants your leverage – your leadership – to be in your circle of influence. Our ‘Contact Zone’ changes daily, but that’s where we lead. A good leader is responsive to the Word of God. Effective leadership is founded on example. (See Mark 10:31-45).
Jesus Himself had to earn the right to lead. Up to the point when He gathered the disciples, He had ‘Everything’, all of the leadership qualities except for perhaps the most important – except for ‘Relationship.’ And that didn’t happen right away. In Mark Chapter 10, verse 32 Jesus was going ahead of the disciples. They were afraid, but He was leading physically AND spiritually; and it had taken Him three years with them – demonstrating His leadership, developing trust – to get to that point. He had finally established the RELATIONSHIP that allowed Him to lead!
Interestingly, the disciples still didn’t understand where He was leading them. They thought He was planning a military victory. Actually He was leading them to mockery, scourging, violence and even death. And though they didn’t fully understand, they followed. Because He had established His leadership, through building a relationship of trust. And He did that by example, from out in front!
As General Eisenhower said: You can’t lead from the back; you must lead from out front.
So everyone has to learn how to lead; and you are a leader. But to be an effective leader takes more than just desire:
First check your motivation. You cannot lead merely on account of your position, because of accolades (‘Nice job’, a pat on the back) or inasmuch as you are getting paid for the job. In Mark 10:37, the disciples want to lead from ‘Position’ ... they want to sit on either side of Jesus!
Jesus rebuked this sentiment. He says that you must lead from a heart that wants to serve those around you. He asks the disciples: ‘Can you drink the cup?’. They say ‘Sure!’ You know, it’s just like interviewing for a job: The boss asks if you can do something or the other; you say: ‘SURE!’ But all the while you’re thinking: ‘I never did that before.’ So too the disciples. They said ‘Yes’, but they didn’t know what they were buying into.
You also may have the capabilities and even the gifts of leadership – but THE RIGHT to lead is a different matter. You must be approved, have the right character and motive. But there is even more to it than that. YOU MUST MAKE THE CONNECTION!
Acts 4:32 tells us that we all – leaders and followers – need to be on the same page; connected by trust. IF YOU ARE GONNA LEAD, YOU MUST CONNECT WITH PEOPLE. It’s all about Relationship! To do God’s work takes energy and time, ‘Hanging Out’, pouring self into others’ lives, in whatever environment and with all kinds of folks – some of whom you may not even like.
Today is ‘Fathers’ Day’ and as a Father-Leader you must expend time and effort ‘Off The Podium’. It’s the relationship that counts. Philippians 2:3-4 sets this out pretty clearly: ‘Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind ...’ You must conceive of others as better than self, more deserving of your energy and time, while you are developing the all-important relationship that fosters leadership. And that’s difficult in these busy times.
If you gave mightily, to your younger kids for example, and don’t see a return; don’t worry. That’s not what leadership is all about. It’s not about rewards. God is setting you up to do His work. Just lead. And in regard to the kids, continue to be a leader for them as adults!
So to lead, you need relationship AND connections; for if people don’t know you, they are not gonna follow you!
Also remember to lead last, and follow first. The disciples were in a three year leadership program; and when Jesus left them, they transformed an entire world; a whole civilization for the last two thousand years! That’s more than a nice legacy; that’s RADICAL!
So, you want to be a leader? Well, what’s your motivation? What are your connections? And have you first learned to follow so that you can finally lead? You must serve as Jesus did. (Mark 10:42-44).
Also, you have to be willing to give all of your heart. That means doing things with excellence; giving your best. This won’t always manifest outwardly. But you must give your whole heart. When people are leading, we ask: ‘How much time and effort are they devoting?’ You have to give it all.
There is one more important attribute and that is persistence. In 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10, Paul says that he doesn’t need to write to them about brotherly love; because they have it covered. ‘But we urge you to increase more and more.’ That means, as a leader, you can’t relax at the wheel! IF YOU BACK OFF FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS, THEY WILL BACK OFF TOO.
In summary: you must constantly increase in your capacity for leadership. This comes with age and experience. And you must always lead from the front. Then emulate the qualities which gave Jesus Christ the right to lead: Heart, Courage, Character, Motive, Relationship and Persistence. Learn from pressure and error and finally earn THE RIGHT to lead. That comes through making the connection, building TRUST. As leaders we must strive mightily to develop the same sort of trust in our followers as we have in The Lord God, our Father.
Pd. Pol. Adv., paid for and approved by Dr. Bill Escoffery,
Candidate for U.S. Senate from Florida.
Copyright © 2010 by William Escoffery III. All