OK then...I have had a strange week or so as I look back and try to embrace leadership. I was reading on Facebook the other day...and a friend posted...a really smart friend posted and I felt so dumb...so out of my league as a leader of a small area of churches. I swear as read...he did speak English...but I could not decipher what he was trying to say. Then when I did begin to understand I realized I did not agree...but how does a former factory worker approach a highly educated and intelligent person and disagree? I feel like in my simple approach to God and Jesus and His word and His church whatever I had to say would come out like a kindergarten student debating with the high school captain of the debate team. It won’t be pretty and all I could hope for would be sympathy points...called another friend and said, “I am outta here!” He talked me off the ledge. (figuratively speaking) All of you who read this and struggle with confidence and self esteem issues know there always seems to be a voice saying, “See, I told you, you can’t do this.” Always.
I have to admit the voice is not as authoritative as in the past...not as in control as before. We might still hear and begin to listen but then another voice comes in and reminds us we can do this...and we are not alone. In time my hope is the other voice dies of completely...and I will give him a proper burial.
A couple of Sundays ago, at our worship celebration, I confessed I still struggle with fear of man...hard to lead with that one for sure. Then I had other brave cowards stand with me and we prayed for God to set us free. We prayed for a better view of God. We prayed to live from Gods’ love for us. I know for myself I had some breakthroughs the next week and I hope the same for my brave friends who stood with me. Now some of you might ask why would I confess something like that to my church family...and I wonder why wouldn’t I? I was struggling to lead...they deserve a better leader...I knew others struggled with the same stuff...and I wanted them to be free from it. As a leader I felt like I had to lead them in this area...I am one of them not above them or way ahead of them. I am on the journey also. And it is always more fun to travel with others!
Then on the positive I had a couple of cool things happen...encouraging words. Alice, from Zimbabwe e mailed and told me how things were going over there since I had visited. It was all so cool...baptisms happening this week end...stories being told. Then she told me how she has been “leaking” out recently. Now before you jump to conclusions let me explain...if I can. When I was there on a Sunday one of the things I mentioned was out of 2 Corinthians 4 where Paul says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not us.” We are cracked pots...clay jars...not meant to store this amazing power but to let it leak out of our cracks...even to be tipped over and poured out. What spills out is not us but God...His power...His love. So Alice and others have been leaking, allowing God to use them in very naturally supernatural ways. Conversations with some that seem so stand offish. Small touches of kindness that do not seem very big a the time but over the course of time they add up. Cowards like me and Alice...it spurs us on to take more risks. The encouraging thing is to hear stories of people hearing my story or the message God gave me and then running with it. They listened, heard and believed it was true! How cool is that?
We were with some friends this week having dinner with their small group. The friend began talking about her 16 year old son and a story he told her. First we realized that when they began hanging out at the Vineyard since he was about 3 years old. Other than a few years when they helped with a church plant and then felt lead to help another church in the area of worship they have been with us. (Some of my favorites but don’t tell them) Anyway the son is taking voice lessons and after one of the sessions he told his mom about this conversation he had with his teacher. Somehow they got in a God conversation and the son told his teacher about how the important thing in church is loving God and others...and I am sure much more but this was the gist of it. His mom looked at me and said, “That is you Bill...that is what he has heard over and over.” His teacher e mailed the mom and told her about the conversation also...I do not remember all the details but he was so impressed with how her son confidently carried on this conversation and that he had never had anyone lay it out so simply and clearly. Well, after I brushed the tears out of my eyes I had to say it was such a blessing to hear this story. So encouraged that maybe the next generation will get it done better than we have. So encouraged to know he has been listening...and buying it...getting it.
I stand back and look...my grandson worshipping and then praying for adults because God told him to. Another young guy leading a small group to head out to the malls to pray for people...sick people...anyone who will let them. A really young girl writing down a vision God gave her to tell her how she will minister to abused children...especially girls. So many signs that even a regular guy can have an impact...could lead...and some will follow.
It can be so easy to be intimidated by others...those smarter...bigger...with more hair. What I am beginning to see though is this...God is not all that impressed with all that. He is not looking at degrees...He is not looking at positions and titles and being impressed. He is still looking at hearts...for willingness...for servants. Will a person hold onto the truth in scripture or bend it a bit to help culture feel better? Will scripture hold a greater place than mans reasoning? Will the Church ever influence culture again or will we bend to culture to try to be relevant? It seems to me that at times the Church or rather some of its leaders want to apologize for God and His word and His old fashioned ways. He is quite old you know...always has been...always will be. Old. Ancient.
I still agree with my young friend...it is about loving God...and loving others. We can use many big words in between there but that is the story...and loving others might mean having to tell them...it might mean you have to be truthful with them...you just might have to tell them...here goes...you might have to tell them, no you are wrong about that. That breaks God’s heart what you are doing...it breaks His heart. I think it is more loving to tell them the truth...even if it hurts...than to try to make the truth help them feel better about themselves...and leave them living a lie. That never helps. You know a person can use big, ambiguous words...sound really, really smart...and still be wrong. Yep...that is right...could really be intimidating...and wrong...so little guys in the world...lead on...we need you.