How an overly politicized culture may affect our view of leadership
Would Moses have run for president? And if so, would anyone have voted for him? Instead of “choosing to run,” Moses would more likely have only served if convinced he was truly “chosen to lead” Israel. Even then, it would’ve been difficult. Unlike American politicians, instead of running for office, Moses would have been more likely to run away from it.
The most important consideration of Moses and the Oval Office for church leaders, however, is this: How does the roller-coaster world of U.S. presidential politics affect or infect our pure biblical view of leadership within the church? The fact remains, while our nation is embroiled in the search to elect a political leader to serve the nation, the church is still responsible to call upon godly ones to serve the church.
A God-given plan for avoiding the pitfalls of power, prestige and possessions
Have you ever wondered why God the Father would allow Jesus to be tempted by the devil? In the desert? In a weakened physical state after Jesus had just spent 40 days fasting?
I believe God allowed His Son, our Savior, to endure these kinds of trials to benefit us—the people He came to renew and redeem. He knew our lives would be filled with temptation. By allowing Jesus to experience the same adversity, He gave us the preeminent model for how we can and should respond to the enemy’s lures.
The Three P’s: Power, Prestige, Possessions
Just as Satan attacked and tempted Jesus with what I call the three P’s (power, prestige, possessions), we can count on Him doing the same thing to us—repeatedly.
Power. First, the devil tempted Jesus by appealing to Him to use His power to turn stones into bread (Matt. 4:3). By refusing, Jesus not only showed us how to overcome temptation, He also reassured us that He understands our struggles firsthand (Heb. 4:15). Instead of using His divine power, Jesus enlisted Scripture and rested in His Father’s power.
Don’t miss this: Jesus refused to establish His identity on the basis of what He could do. Essentially, He told Satan, “My identity is based in My Father’s power, not Mine.”
Do you base your identity in what you do? For years, Satan used this “P” on me. I thought my power—or my profession of being an NFL player—defined me, and that people would accept and like me because of what I did. If I lost my career, who would I be? I bought the lie of believing that what I did defined me as a person. The big problem is that NFL stands for “Not for Long.”
When we ground our identity in what we do, we never win. It’s bondage.
Prestige. Second, the devil tempted Jesus with prestige: “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down” (Matt. 4:6). Jesus didn’t find His identity in opportunities to promote Himself, but in being God’s Son. Once again, He went to Scripture to deflect Satan’s appeal to prestige (v. 7).
If you haven’t already been tempted with prestige, you will. We live in an age of self-preoccupation and self-promotion. Our culture values and worships superstars. The popularity explosion of Facebook and YouTube should tell us something: People love to promote themselves. Conversely, Jesus valued humility and called His followers to be servants (John 13:1-17).
Possessions. The third temptation was possessions—probably the No. 1 scheme Satan uses to shipwreck the common man. Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world (Matt. 4:8-9). But Jesus, once again secure and grounded in His identity as God’s Son, refused to find His identity in possessions. He crushed Satan once again, using Scripture (v. 10).
Every advertisement or commercial screams, “Buy me and you’ll be better.” Granted, there’s nothing wrong with having nice things. But when things have you or when you find your identity in what you possess, something has gone terribly wrong.
Strength Training in the Wilderness
Jesus knew His identity was secure and anchored as God’s Son. By refusing to find His identity in power, prestige or possessions, He resisted (I like to think He drop-kicked) the devil. Because we are God’s sons and daughters through our faith in Jesus (John 1:12; 1 John 3:2), we too can resist and defeat Satan’s temptations.
Take time this week to think about and ask yourself these questions:
Each day this week, send yourself a text or email, reminding yourself that power, prestige and possessions do not define you.
Derwin Gray is the founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church, a multiethnic, multigenerational, mission-shaped community in Indian Land, S.C. From 1993 to 1998, he played football for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts and the Carolina Panthers. Gray is the author of Hero: Unleashing God’s Power in a Man’s Heart and is a highly sought-after communicator. For more information, go to tc521.org.
Have you ever wondered what is happening to churches today? Many have lost their sense of purpose, floundering for identity, in a sea of hundreds of other churches competing for the same people. Approximately 80 percent of “church growth” numbers can be attributed to people transferring from one church to another rather than new converts. As many as 3,000-4,000 churches close their doors every year—unable to stay open due to financial burdens, infrastructural turmoil and apathy.
In this discouraging environment, day in and day out, pastors and church leaders toil for the kingdom of God. Often overworked, underpaid and unappreciated, they deny themselves the luxury of time for rest and spiritual renewal. Is it any wonder that more than 1,500 pastors leave their churches every month due to spiritual burn-out, moral failure or contention within their congregation?
Worship should be the focus and source of our service
My dad, Bill Johnson, has always said to us,
“Everything we do in life and ministry should flow out of our worship to God.”
True worship is a heart surrendered to God, and the overflow of that surrendered heart is a life of praise. I believe anything is possible in a room of worshippers. Healing often takes place in the atmosphere created by worship. His presence is that atmosphere. We don’t worship to get miracles, though. He is the result and in Him is everything. He is the One we seek.
Praising God when you don’t feel like it isn’t fake praise. In fact, that’s when it’s sometimes the most real and honest. Those are the times when we go past our human emotions and make it loud and clear to the spirit realm that we are taking a step of faith and saying, “I believe!” God can’t help but intervene in the life of a passionate worshiper.
Effective administration ensures the best outpouring of the Holy Spirit
Administration’s time has come. These words still echo in my head two years after first hearing them in the form of a prophetic word. That word would cause me to fully embrace and value my gift of administration, as well as encourage others to do the same.
Administration is often misunderstood to be about typing, filing and clerical work. To study administration is to study how to lead and manage change. Administration is leadership. Misunderstanding, devaluing or disowning this gift is a huge mistake, particularly at this moment in history. We live in the days of the greatest change and opportunity this world has ever seen. The corporate world has grasped this and has stewarded increase with great skill, creativity and hard work.
At the same time, the church is hesitant to embrace the very gift that will enable it to carry out the God-given assignment of stewarding increase, change and transformation.