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Following an Empowering Leadership
Scripture: Matthew 4:18-22; 8:18-22; 28:10
Track 12 of 12 in the Being with Him means Looking Like Him series
Running time: 27 minutes, 27 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, May 23, 2004
"Following an Empowering Leadership"
"Being With Him Means Looking Like Him"
(Matthew 4:18-22; 10:1,5; 28:18-20)
Copyright 2004 G. Charles Sackett

"The holder of the title 'leader' often comes from the shadows of obscurity." At least so says Calvin Miller about the leadership of David, King of Israel.

Maybe you remember that story when Saul has lost his good relationship with God and has been replaced in God's heart as Israel's king. God sends Samuel to anoint a new king. He will be the son of Jesse. And so Samuel is sent to Bethlehem in order to speak to the people and to anoint a new king.

Let me read just a portion of that story for you. The Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I'm sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his son's to be king." Samuel said, "How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me."

The Lord said, "Take a heifer with you and say, I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate." Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, "Do you come in peace?"

Samuel replied, "Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me." Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed stands here before the Lord."

But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance nor his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. Samuel said, "The Lord has not chosen this one either." Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, "Nor has the Lord chosen this one." Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, "The Lord has not chosen these." So he asked Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?"

"There is still the youngest," Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep."

Samuel said, "Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives."

So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, "Rise and anoint him: he is the one."

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.

I like the way that Eugene Peterson chooses to word that latter part of the text. Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel. Samuel was blunt with Jesse. God hasn't chosen any of these. Then he asked Jesse, is this it; are there no more sons? Well, yes, there's the runt. He's out tending the sheep.

"Sometimes the holder of the title leader comes from the shadows of obscurity." says Calvin Miller.

That is certainly true of the disciples when you look at the selection of the twelve in Matthew 10. What you see is this rather uninteresting list. Let me read for you just a portion of Matthew 10. He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

If what you notice is the fact that you don't notice anything, then you've noticed the right thing.

One man has his name changed to Rock. Another man is a Zealot. He is one of those who is anti-Roman. We have this hint in the parenthetical phrase that one is going to betray Jesus and other than that, this is a pretty nondescript bunch including a tax collector. But that's the nature of how Jesus chooses his leaders. To simply call them out of the shadows of obscurity. In fact, it's interesting that when you look at what Jesus does, Jesus takes very ordinary people and gives them extraordinary responsibility. That is the nature of how Jesus works. To take very ordinary people and give them extraordinary responsibility. He was an "empowering leader". He turned people loose to do things that they would have never dreamed that they could have done on their own.

One of Tom Tanner's prayers that he prays regularly though I think sometimes with a little hesitancy is, God make this job so big that only you can do it. And God seems to answer his prayer fairly regularly. That's what we want to do here. We want to be sure that what we do here is so clearly beyond us that it has to belong to God. We want to be those kind of empowering people who take rather (no offense now) ordinary people and allow them the privilege of doing extraordinary things. To lay in the hands of what would otherwise be a fairly nondescript group, the privilege of being the kind of people that God can use in ways that are beyond any of our imaginations. We want to do that as a church. We want to help you do that as parents; to take rather ordinary children and prepare them for rather extraordinary possibilities. We'd like to actually empower you as people in the business community where you work to be the kind of people who take rather ordinary employees and turn them into rather extraordinary people by understanding there is a way which that can happen. "Empowering leadership" looks something like this. It starts in the back. Over in Matthew 4 a rather interesting statement that Jesus makes. It's one of those passages that we read over. . . . .I'm sure we've read it on numerous occasions.

Matthew 4:18 It's that initial call in Matthew's gospel where he identifies those early disciples. Verse 18: As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."

"Come follow me," That literally means, come stand behind me, which is a logical thing if you're going to be a follower. . . .right? You've got to be behind somebody. You have to literally be in the back or you're not following, you're leading. And Jesus says if you want to be the person that I'm calling you to be, you need to take your place behind me and let me take you where I want you to go. And what I want to do is that I want to empower you to be something beyond what you are now. You're a fisherman. I want to take that rather ordinary trade of being a fisherman and I want to use that to produce in you fishers of men. I want to empower you to do more than you're doing now. But in order for that to happen you have to be willing to take your place in the back. You have to come behind me. That is the very first requirement, you know, to line up behind Jesus? Leadership doesn't emerge from the front. Leadership emerges from the rear.

And so, Madison Park looks for people who are already doing that which God has called them to do. Already doing that which needs to be done. Already demonstrating in the life of the individual, a spirit of obedience and sacrifice and submission to what God is calling. Frankly we don't look for the most important people in leadership roles. We look for those people who are willing to be in the back. It's such an incredibly important place for leaders to make sure that their lined up behind Jesus.

I was in my office this last week and one of our students who had been in Germany

this last year doing her internship came in to talk about some of the things that she had experienced and we're carrying on this conversation. She says, "Ya know it's a fascinating world when being a preacher is a state government job." which it is in Germany. She said, "Ya know the fascinating thing is you can get a job as a preacher, a pastor in a German church and never believe in God. In fact," she said, "I met several."

That's not what a leader is here. The leader here first demonstrates this fundamental principle, I've lined up behind Jesus. I am obedient to Him. I follow Him. I believe in Him. I do what He calls. Leadership begins in the back, but leadership also develops by doing. There is a willingness here to trust what it is that God is calling for.

Come back to Chapter 10 where those fellas are named in their responsibility. It says in Verse 1: He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease. . . . . . . I know that probably in your Bible, you have this funny little thing right ahead of that verse. It's called Chapter 10. It's the unfortunate nature of our Bibles that we have inserted chapter markers and sometimes little notes and things. But if you had been the recipient of this Bible initially, there wouldn't have been a division between Chapter 9 and Chapter 10. It would just have been one long paragraph and would have sounded something like this.

The world is out here and in a great deal of need and there are lots of people who are hurting, who need a shepherd and, and. . . . . .In fact, if you look at verses 37 and 38, that's what we call it now, it would say something like this.

Pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth workers because the fields are ready. And then, guess what Chapter 10 says. . . . . . I think I'll answer my own prayer. . . . . .GO! That's how the nature of Jesus does it.

He says to his disciples, you pray that God will provide workers and then he says to those very same people, Go answer your prayer. . . . .go do it. Actually experience it. Get involved in it. See what happens.

In fact, if you look down here in Chapter 10, one of the things you're going to notice is that there are some rather unusual things happening.

These twelve Jesus sent out with (Verse 5) the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: "The kingdom of heaven is near." Do these things. Do not (Verse 9) take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.

Do you know what Jesus said? You go and you just trust me to take care of the rest. You go do what I've called you to do. Do not take the extra provisions. Do not go like most people would go. Do not even go physically prepared. You just go and let me be responsible for the rest.

If you drop down just a little further in this text, you'll notice down in Verse 17ff:

"Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Do ya hear him? You're gonna get in trouble but don't worry about it. I'll take care of it. I'll use you anyway. You do what I call you to do. . . . I'll take care of the rest.

Come down to Verse 32: "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven." Jesus says, I want to send you out but I want you to go trusting me to take care of things. Don't go on your own power. Don't go like the world would go. Go like a disciple goes, dependent upon what I want to do in you. And I come back and remind you that the leaders at Madison Park are those kinds of people who first demonstrate their ability to serve, to get involved.

In fact the very first screening question of a potential leader at out church, in this congregation, is. . . .what are they already doing?

Now I've been in congregations where the kind of tone was; well, if we give this particular person this job that will turn them into a leader. No it won't. You don't give people titles. You find people already doing that which needs to be done and then you move them into leadership.

So, here's my challenge. Get involved. Volunteer in the nursery. Grab a mop and clean the building. Pick up trash across the parking lot. Go to the neighbor down the street and mow their lawn. Let your faith begin to be seen out there at work. Try some things and let God work in you. And in that process of going and doing, leadership begins then to develop within you. Because the kind of leaders that Jesus chooses are the obscure servant hiding in the shadow.

Well, it's not just that leaders start in the back and they develop by doing, but leaders function by empowering, which is really the point. The need to and the desire to empower people to move from being ordinary to extraordinary.

I think one of those most interesting passages is the last paragraph in the book of Matthew, when Jesus has one final opportunity to say something in Verse 18 he says, ah Chapter 28:18 "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

Do you hear it? You go and then you empower others to go by doing the same things that you have done. The nature of leadership in the kingdom of God is to give responsibility, to trust people, to turn people loose and allow them to experience

ministry on their own level. I think, as much as I appreciate the leadership of Madison Park for so many different things, I appreciate them for this above all else. They are a "yes" saying group. If you come with an idea about ministry, chances are, the first things their going to say is "yes", now how do we do that?

I don't know how many churches I have been involved in as a consultant where I have been in meetings with the people and they have said to me in one way or another; We've made this recommendation to the church and the first response that we get is "NO". And if you ask often enough maybe somebody might finally say "Maybe"!

It is just the opposite here. People stir up ideas all the time. If you happen to come to second service you would notice a chair sitting down here and somebody doing sign language. That came because somebody had an idea that we ought to have a sign ministry in case there were deaf people who wanted to hear the message. That didn't come out of leadership. That came out of the pews. If you happen to be one of those people who has experienced the blessing of the assimilation team helping you find your way from getting acquainted at Madison Park into a small group or a Bible study, that's just what they do. That surfaced out of the pew.

There are people who want to do ministry who recommend ministry ideas and the next thing you know, we have those ministries happening because that's the nature of how this leadership works.

We want to take the risk of trusting people to do that which God is calling them to do.

It is the challenge of genuine leadership to trust people. Let me roll that over for you. It is also the challenge of being a leader to be trusted.

I read this week that one of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency. One of the things I like about the leadership of Madison Park is their ability to anticipate the future and to see where they think we need to go. To believe that they have God's voice speaking in someway to help them

understand direction. And, the willingness to step out and to lead in ways that, frankly, sometimes are just a little scarey and a little beyond my ability to imagine.

Yesterday I was tired of working in my garage and standing out in the driveway talking to my neighbor, reflecting on a number of experiences. My neighbor comes from another congregation about half way across the state. One of his frustrations was the fact that so often the church would recognize that there was a direction that they needed to go. There was a step they needed to take but every time they got on the verge of actually taking the step, the leaders would step back and say, we're not sure we can do that. And so they wouldn't do it. His frustration was, of course we can't do it, if we could do it, then God wouldn't be necessary, would he? We need to be willing to do that which only God can do.

I look back at a church that I'm very well acquainted with, that about ten years ago found themselves in a bottleneck for space. Hired an architect and prepared drawings for an addition to their building which I think would have resolved many of their problems. Spent about two years working through all the details of how to carry this thing out. Gave it to the people in a congregation where they actually have people vote on various things and the congregation voted 80% in favor of moving ahead with this two or three million dollar project and the leadership stepped back and said, we're not sure we have the money to do that. . . . .and so they didn't do it.

There is this tension that exists in leadership that we need to empower people to do that which they want to do. We also have this tension that says leaders have to step out and lead in the confidence that they know where God is going and that they will take the risk of leading. And the challenge then comes in whether or not we're willing to follow.

You know we've ask you to do that. For the last five or six weeks we've been writing letters and putting out gospel messengers and inserting into sermons and in various ways trying to help you understand that the leadership believes that what we need to do is to step forward with an addition to our building that reconnects these two buildings, to raise 1.2 million dollars. We met at Baldwin school last week. We gave you material to think about. We asked you to pray and for 24 hours leading up to this service, various people have been praying in fifteen minute increments, making phone calls to the next person to pray again.

I woke up. I rarely do this. I woke up in the middle of the night last night. That happens to me about once every six years. And I got to thinking about the conversation I had in my backyard yesterday and I got to thinking about this morning's service when we're going to collect those commitments that you're choosing to make. And my friends. . . .I'm just standing here ready to tell you something. . . . . . it's bigger than we are. This is not something you and I can do.

This is something only God can do through us. And the challenge that's in front of you is to trust that the leaders know where we're going and to believe in what they have to offer.

In fact, one of those leaders is going to come and he's going to talk to us just a bit about our commitments. Our ushers are going to come and pass out the commitment cards, just in case you forgot one. If you brought yours with you, that's fine. If not, there'll be some available for you to take as they come down the aisle. Be an opportunity for you to fill them out.

Larry - talk - Commitment Sunday

It was in the context of worship that Jesus said to His disciples, Go into all the world and make disciples. They came to this mountain top to worship and He took these rather ordinary people and called for them to do rather extraordinary things. To win a whole world for Him. Now I'm not equating a capital campaign and the great commission. So, don't misunderstand me. The only ways that those are connected is that it's bigger than we are. And in the context of worship, gathering in this place at this time to make those kinds of commitments, you put it in the hands of one who can do more than you can even possibly imagine.

There is a world out there that is dependent upon those of us who are empowered by Jesus to do that which is beyond our own ability. To take rather ordinary people like you and me and to give us this extraordinary responsibility of sharing the gospel with the whole world. You understand, of course, there is no other way for this to get done. There is no backup plan on the, kind of, reserve shelf in heaven that says, ok, well, if the disciples don't get the job done, then I have Plan "B". We are the plan! We ordinary people are the only plan He has for Quincy, Adams County, the Tri-State area. . . . . . . . END OF SIDE ONE

If His disciples, the ones who, like us, are meeting this morning in somebody's building,, somewhere, talking about Jesus are not out with the gospel empowered by Jesus to do remarkable things, their not going to hear. Jesus is the champion "empowering leader" taking ordinary people and giving them extraordinary responsibility. That happens only when we are completely available to Him. That happens when you and I have said to Him, I AM YOURS AND YOURS ALONE!

When we have stepped, literally, behind Jesus and said, whatever you call me to do, that I will do.

I recognize for some of you a decision to become a Christian is a very rational thing. You've looked at the evidence and you said in your life this is what makes sense to me. This is what I need to do.

For others of you making a decision to become a Christian has been a very emotional thing. And it stirred within your soul something that said I have to respond to this.

Either kind of decision is perfectly fine for God. Because, ultimately, what it boils down to is taking a look at what Jesus has done for you in having died and given His life and said I want to follow that. I want to step behind him. And for some of us, it's a very cold rational decision. It's the right thing to do. That's what I'm going to do. There's no reason to put it off. I need to get it done. For others it's a stirring in our soul that says I want to follow Him because there is no alternative.

If you've not made that decision, we're calling for that decision. And if you've already made that choice to follow Him, then like Jesus, we would like to empower you to go do the extraordinary. To allow Him to work in your life in such a way that people see in you, His life and they want what you have. Let's not ever lose sight that's why we're here, to have been empowered and to empower others to know Jesus.

Let's stand.