(Unsplash/Tim Foster)

I have been to the nations of the former Soviet Union over 120 times. Because of jet lag, I would wake up every morning around 4 o'clock, and because there was no English TV or internet to lull me back to sleep, I would begin to pray and read the Word of God.

In those early hours of the day, I discovered an extraordinary truth from the Scriptures in the life and leadership of Jesus: We know Jesus wants us to live the greatest lives possible, but that all begins by putting the marking of Christ's authentication in your heart and living under the influence of His love.

In art and media, a marking of authenticity establishes definitively who painted, sculpted, designed, built or wrote a work. Those markings are used to establish the great value of the item because of who created it and how much work went into it. In Jesus' life, we see the Father's mark of authenticity through the holes from the nails in Christ's hands and feet and His scars from the crown of thorns and the stripes on His back. These markings signal both that He is the Messiah and proclaim His total surrender to God the Father.

Because of Jesus's substitutionary sacrifice for us, we don't carry His scars. Instead, we carry His Spirit as the marking of authenticity that we are His and living under His influence. Notice these words of Jesus after the resurrection:

"As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you. When He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:21-22).

Jesus did everything in the power of the Holy Spirit, and because we too carry His Spirit within us, we are both marked as His and empowered to live surrendered to Him, as Christ did.

Acts 1:8 promises that His Holy Spirit within us will fill us with "power" to carry out His will and lead others to Him. This will transform your life in times of victory, success, and also great failure.

As ministry leaders, the mark of the Holy Spirit is particularly important, because we cannot operate without His authority, or mark of authenticity, nor can we be successful for the kingdom unless He empowers our efforts. It takes much more than a certificate of ordination or a title to be marked by God for ministry. Looking for the marks of authentic leadership sometimes can be more challenging because leadership is far more complex than a title. Instead, it is revealed in your ability to stand faithfully through the challenges and tests of life. It is revealed when you consistently surrender to the will of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead through you. Jesus came with many titles, but He left with a testimony of a life of leadership that won the victory overcame every challenge and every temptation because He remained connected to the Holy Spirit and surrendered to the will of the Father.

If your life and ministry are not bearing these hallmarks of His mark of authenticity, it's time to ask Him to begin to lead you in a life of adventure under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Pray this prayer:

Dear God, thank You for sending Jesus as a model for my life as a layperson and as a minister of the gospel. Thank You for calling and anointing me for this work. I cannot do it without You and Your Spirit. God, I ask that You would fill me afresh with Your Spirit. Place Your mark of authenticity on my heart and give me the power to carry out the work to which You have called me. Let all who see and hear me know that I am Yours, and draw them to Yourself through me, Father. Neither I nor my ministry will amount to anything without Your grace. Empower me to serve you faithfully, even and especially through challenges, trials and temptations, so that Your power at work in my life will be unmistakable. In Jesus's name I pray. Amen.

I want to you to know you're beautiful. I see Jesus in you!

Today is a new day in your life and ministry.

Have an awesome week, champion!

Mikel French has challenged spiritual awakening all across America, where many celebrations extended into multiple weeks, and has conducted celebrations in France, Sweden, Russia, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Germany, South Africa, Malawi, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Haiti, Japan, Singapore, India and Thailand. He conducted an outreach celebration in Manila, Philippines, reaching 200,000 teenagers with the book of hope. Through the generous support of partners, he has presented the message of Jesus Christ to millions of people in the nation of Russia through televised citywide soul-winning celebrations. Mikel considers it an honor to assist in conducting the annual pastor's conference, where thousands of pastors from Russia's 11 time zones come for training, teaching and equipping. Mikel and his wife, Marsha, reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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