LIFESTYLE LEADERSHIP

LIFESTYLE LEADERSHIP
Class One
BY MAXWELL FRATT

James 3:1 tells us of the greater responsibility of the leader as called by God: “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”

It is important that we take note of the fact that a leader will be held in more severe and stricter judgment than his followers. The very next sentence informs us that “For in many things we offend all.”

Because we stumble as humans will, and because we offend others when we “slip” we usually maintain that we are not “called to be a leader.” The world has set up many standards for leadership, which many believers think should be the standards that God uses to select His leaders. Using God’s WORD and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will look at the examples God has set before us to see what God wants us to know about leadership in His Kingdom.

MOSES

What do we know about Moses? We are usually well versed in the life of Moses and the reed basket that carried him to the daughter of Pharaoh. We also know that he was highly educated, and accustomed to power, prestige and comfort. At his calling by God, where was Moses?

At the backside of the dessert engaged in one of the lowliest occupations of that day. He could have been embittered and blamed society for his troubles. He could have been to his own party, a pity
party, and been so wrapped in his decline from acclaim that he might have missed the calling of the Lord. (He was even, in this job of sheep herder, having to work for his in-laws!)

Let’s turn to Exodus 3:2 and see what happened. “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire and the bush was not consumed.”

It is important to take special note that the very FIRST action taken by God was to reveal Himself to Moses (v:5,6). If we are asked to serve in some capacity, make certain that God is in it. Don’t move an inch until you have determined the will of God in the matter. Many times the will of God is made clear to us suddenly, other times we have to wait, abide, until He makes it clear. We can be certain of this – God will show you. God is not a God of confusion and He is well able to communicate to His children, if they are listening.

In Psalm 32:8 God tells us “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye.”  Guidance is God’s responsibility – “I will instruct. I will teach. I
will guide.” In Psalm 48:14 we are informed: “For this God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death.” Just as Moses was certain, we can be certain that God has spoken.

The second action taken by God was to reveal to Moses that He, too, had a burden for His people. “And the Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows'”(3:7).

Can you picture Moses? The very burden that had been the cause of his removal and exile from Egypt was shared by God! Then God stated “I AM come down to deliver them out of the hand of the
Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey” (3:8).

Now picture Moses. I can see him thinking, “OH BOY! This powerful God is going to remedy the matter and straighten everything out! God, Himself, was going to PERSONALLY take charge!”

Then the other shoe is dropped! God tells Moses “Come now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt” (3:10).

Now, what is running in the mind of Moses? “But-But-But YOU said YOU were going to do it YOURSELF! If YOU are going to do it, why do I need to go?”

Right here is the crossroads of our lives in our relationship with God. It is important to commit to our hearts that God’s method is to use His children to accomplish His plan and purposes. When we can understand this, then we can begin to understand our role in the Kingdom of God.

What is the immediate response of Moses in verse 11? Look at his statement. What was God’s response to that question? It was so immaterial to God’s plan that God did not even acknowledge the “Who am I” of Moses!

Here, God allows us one of the first concepts of leadership in His kingdom. In verse 12 God states: “Certainly I will be with thee.” God tells us all a powerful truth by His not acknowledging the
cry of Moses. In our terms, God told Moses that it didn’t matter who Moses was, whether he was qualified or unqualified, whether he was capable or incapable. God states clearly “I AM going to be there, I AM going to do it, and I AM going to give you the blessing and privilege of being in it with me – in fact I AM going to use you as my instrument of deliverance.”

In II Corinthians 3:5, the Apostle Paul tells us, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” In God’s Kingdom, it is an asset, not a
handicap, to have a strong sense of need and inadequacy. Later, in chapter 12:9,10, Paul confirms this idea. “And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me …. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Look again, Paul – the Apostle to the
Gentile (us) felt exactly like we do! But, because he acknowledged the method of God was to work through men, God used him in a mighty way to accomplish His Plan and Purpose – to give the Gospel to us!

Let’s go back to Exodus 3:13 where Moses says to God “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel and say unto them, ‘The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you’: and they shall say unto me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say unto them?”

Again, in God’s way we are given an answer that man would not have conceived: “And God said unto Moses, “I AM THAT I AM”: and He said, “thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, ‘I AM hath sent me unto you.'”

Now read through verse 15. I have always looked at that statement of God and His declaration of His self-existent nature – that is until this study. Can you see what I see in that statement of
I AM? I see God telling me: “Whatever you need to do as I send, that is what I AM.” He is telling each of us that whatever we need – Comfort? – I AM your comfort (1 Peter 5:7) Victory over a sin that ails us? – I AM your victory (I Corinthians 15:57) Love? – I AM love (I John 4:8). Look it over – is there any area that you can think of that God cannot fill. God’s statement of I AM can be held in our heart as “I AM all that my people need.”

GIDEON

Our knowledge of Gideon is usually centered on the many battles and victories won by this warrior of God. With just a handful of men, Gideon was able to defeat large armies. Bold, courageous and valiant are terms that I have heard used to describe this mighty man of God.

Let’s look at the record in Scripture. Judges 6:1 tells us the condition of the children of Israel. They were suffering oppression under the rule of the Midianites – hiding in caves in the mountains –
their crops ruined by their oppressors. Why? Verse 6 tells us: “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.”

One night, Gideon was found by God threshing some wheat to hide it from the Midianites. God sent His angel to tell Gideon that he was to be God’s instrument to deliver Israel from the Midianites. Verse 15 gives us Gideon’s first response: “Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” Look at God’s response. Recall Moses?

Again, God pays no attention to the cry of man to prove his worthlessness – God is well aware of that fact and needs no reminder!

God responds: “Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.” God, in essence, tells Gideon and us that “it doesn’t matter who you are, but that I AM with thee. It is not how weak you are, but how My strength will work through you.”

JEREMIAH

One of the great prophets of God. Called the “weeping prophet” because of his broken heart at the sin of Israel before the Lord.  Recalled by every minister of the Gospel for his success and his
determination to do God’s will. Let’s look at the record.

Jeremiah 1:4,5 shows us how God took the first step and communicated with Jeremiah: “Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, ‘Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before
thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.'” Now, a prophet is to declare the Word of God. In the Old Testament, prophets declared God’s doctrines, today they expound on them. Do we find Jeremiah jumping at the chance to answer this call? “Then said I, ‘Ah, Lord God! behold I cannot speak: for I am a child.'”

The next two verses give us the response God wants each of us to acknowledge when we come off with excuses. Read these verses. “Say not, ‘I am a child,’ for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I AM with thee to deliver thee.” Again, “I AM with thee.”

God was by Jeremiah’s side and He promises to be at our side. God further promises to us, through His words to Jeremiah in verse 19 “And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I AM with thee ‘sayeth the Lord’, “to deliver thee.”

Now, Jesus Christ gave each of us one last order before He departed: “Go and make disciples of all the nations.” He then proceeds in Matthew 28:20 to give us the same basis for serving Him
with confidence that He gave to these others of the Faith, “Lo, I AM with you always…” The message is still the same “Yesterday, today and tomorrow” and we need to plant it in our hearts “I AM with you.”

One of the areas where the devil has a playground and neutralizes our response to God’s call is to make some disparaging remark about something EVIL in our background. Satan tells us that we cannot be used of God with THIS THING in our past or that it will hinder any work God may have for us. Again, God’s way is not the way of the world. Turn to Acts 22:19-20. In shame, Paul tells us what his past was “I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on Thee; And when the blood of Thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.” Paul further elaborated in I Corinthians 15:9 in claiming that he was “not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

Do you relate to this? Look at I Timothy 1:12,13 where Paul states why he is at peace by saying “I thank Jesus Christ our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious.”

Now, according to the standards of the world (Satan) this man Paul was unfit for anything! But in God’s way and God’s plan Paul was to be a mighty vessel for God to pour forth His Love to us all.
However; even the Apostle Paul showed how human he was when evaluating others for leadership.

We look at the matter of John Mark. Because of prior failures and unfaithfulness, Paul refused to allow John Mark to accompany him (Acts 15:36-38). This is the very man that God had called to be the author of the Gospel of Mark, which is the Gospel that tells us about the faithful servanthood of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t on the basis of Mark’s background that God selected him for His service.

The point is, when God calls you, by His Word, by His servants and ministers or by answer to prayer we are to let neither a feeling of being inadequate or having a “past” restrain us from following His call. As a final message, look at Philippians 2:13 “For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure.” I ask that you seek Him to outline to you the area of leadership that He has called you to as an immediate area of service, whether it be in the home or on your job, as father or mother, as supervisor or employee, as a Sunday School teacher or a youth counselor. Wherever God has called, pray that He will communicate to you what He wants done and that you will be open to follow His leading.

If you want to have a guideline on how to determine or test an INNER MESSAGE I suggest the following:

(1) Is it scriptural and in context with the entire Bible. (The Bible is consistent from Genesis to Revelation and should be followed in context. Out of context, the Bible is used to justify many actions
that God would not want.)

(2) Look for counsel from friends who are (also) seeking God’s leading. (God uses your friends as His voice many times, and encourages the fellowship with one another for this purpose.)

(3) Acknowledge and expect Providential circumstances. (God will open doors for His plan to be accomplished. He will arrange for certain people or circumstances to confirm His will and plan.)

(4) Apply our own judgment in a form of Sanctified Common Sense. (So many believers today are less than effective in their witness due to their failure to hear that inner voice of the Holy Spirit and to heed that voice. Once we hear that voice and the above conditions are met, then we are to APPLY that to our daily living.)

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