Saturday, March 12, 2011

The True Measure of Greatness...

Every year new officials are elected to positions of leadership in the government and in the church. We look to them to lead us and provide us with security and peaceful lives. But the standard we often use to measure what makes a person great is often not very Biblical. If a person is prosperous, we assume that he or she can provide financial prosperity and handle money with wisdom. If a person is young and handsome, we assume there is wisdom that goes along with those good looks. Yet we know that in each of these, prosperity and good looks, there can be deception and treachery. A prosperous person may have increased his goods by fraud, deception and greed. A good looking leader may have used his outward appearance to gain popularity while inwardly being immature and ego-centric. There is a saying we should pay closer attention to in selecting leadership. “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in their leader. A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” (Anonymous). A great leader pulls out the best in you. The greatest spiritual leaders do even more…they help you put your confidence in God, reaching into the supernatural and into the impossible.

True Greatness

What does God say about greatness? Greatness means becoming a servant. Matthew 20:26-27 “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” In today’s modern culture, that is a hard concept to deal with for many. We despise the idea of slavery. We link it to the idea of racism. The modern American does not want to lower himself to a level of ‘slavery’, even by choice, for it goes against the idea of the ultimate American dream—being in charge, and leading the way with power. We want to be achievers and have a future filled with ambitions and dreams. A life of servitude just goes against the grain. But in reality, it is a failure to recognize who is really in control, and who is the true authority. The moment we do things our way, we wrestle away authority and control into our own hands, failing to see that God is always the ultimate authority. The world around us talks about a ‘service industry’, applauding those who choose to serve others for the public good. But true servant hood means even more.

Jesus set the ultimate example of greatness by his servanthood. Phil 2:5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of Himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of Himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (TMB) His daily activities reflected this idea of serving. Remember how Jesus chose to wash his disciples feet? It was the job of the servant in the house, yet Jesus did it to teach servanthood as a way of life. John 13:15-17 I've laid down a pattern for you. What I've done, you do. I'm only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn't give orders to the employer. If you understand what I'm telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.

Humility in Greatness

Becoming great in God’s eyes is very different from becoming great in each other’s eyes. It demands a life of humility. Humility is not becoming a doormat, but choosing to walk in total humility in spite of the repercussions. Philippians 2:3-5 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” Humility chooses to die to the desires of self. It chooses instead to look to the needs of others. What is the greatest need in others around me? How can I help meet that need? It never looks for an attitude of “What’s in it for me?” Instead to choose to submit for the greater good of others. Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” What does this mean on a practical level? It means that on the job, you consider the needs of your boss or the customer before your own needs. It means in the home, you work to meet the needs and desires of your spouse and children before you selfishly fulfill your own desires. In the church, it means giving of yourself to see that others grow spiritually, doing all you can to give of yourself to help the leadership, and if you are a leader, to sacrifice for those you lead. Isaiah 66:2  “These are the ones I look on with favor:  those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” Those who tremble at His words must have ears willing to listen to God in the first place. They will have a reverent awe of the voice of God. Their lives will be ordered by His commands. They will never be ‘ladder climbers’ reaching for selfish ambition. They will be teachable, listening closely to the quiet nudges of the Holy Spirit.

We all seem to struggle with the Biblical concept of greatness. We are daily bombarded with the ideas of the world around us as to what greatness means. The media pushes the idea that you are great when you are famous, when you get lots of money and when others want to be just like you. Today, fame is fleeting. One day you can be the darling of Hollywood and the next day—nothing. You may be the leader of a nation with billions of dollars in your pocket, but as we have seen in Egypt’s turmoil, greatness was not in wealth. The people demanded true ggreatness, a leader that looked to the interests of others rather than self.

Today, we want to be like Jesus, but we struggle with the idea of humbling ourselves. Jesus told his followers we are to be like little children if we would be great. How are children great? They look to their Father for everything they need in life. They listen to his words, and mimic his every move. They want to spend time with their Father, sitting on his knee, learning and growing. They look at life with innocent eyes, seeing the best in everyone. They learn to speak what Father speaks and do what Father does. Is that not what Jesus did? As I said before, I do nothing on my own. My judgment of the world will be based on what I hear from my Father (John 5:30). For I have come down from heaven to do God’s will, not my own (John 6:38). Our struggle is for self-determination. We want to do what we want to do. We see it in our children and grandchildren when we take their hand to keep them safe, but they do their best to pull away and go where they want to go all by themselves. When we tell then “No” and hold their little hands, they object and cry and struggle to be free, not knowing that freedom can be dangerous and comes with great responsibilities. We do not like to hear the “No”. We want to go. We want to do. We want to be free. Soon we learn that growing up demands we learn to respond appropriately with maturity. We learn to submit for the greater good. God’s desires are always the greater good. Jesus’ need for self-determination was laid aside in favor of divine-determination.

What makes for great leadership today? It is the same as it was for Jesus. His greatness recognized the true authority as Father God and he made himself a servant to His Father. In spiritual combat, His authority was the Word of God. Jesus greatness was in his humility. He made himself nothing--His greatness was in his life of prayer, daily talking to the Father. His greatness was in his anointing--allowing the Spirit to flow through Him to meet the needs of others. His greatness was in his cooperation and unity with God. How can we be spiritually great? By doing the same as Jesus: become a servant of God, stand on the Word of God, walk in self-imposed humility, living a life of prayer, talking to God the Father, walking in the anointing, filled with the Spirit, living in harmony and unity with God and His plan. God has given us all the tools we need to do the job. When we stand in the authority of the Word, allow the Spirit’s anointing to flow through us, and humbly give the glory to God, Father will be pleased. Greatness begins on your knees, discovering the mind of Christ. There is no greater place to be than walking in harmony with the Almighty God.
J. Johnson

Praise reports and prayer requests…..

Pray for revival! Pray for those who are struggling with forgiveness, anger and doubt.

Pray for the Johnsons as they seek a new place of full time ministry...a church that needs strong leadership. Pray for grieving families who have lost loved ones....(Fritz Ammeter family) Pray for Pastors, Evangelists, Missionaries, and Teachers. Pray for US Army Chaplain Steve Maglio.

Pray for those needing a healing touch in their bodies: Theresa Johnson (still having pain from her heart problems) Jeanne Deike (cancer) Dave Barth (cancer), L. Gardner (cancer). Pray for those dealing with chaos, anger, abuse, temptations and carnal sinful habits. Pray for the nation, for the President, for our service men and women, for Israel, for Christians in Muslim countries, for the unsaved, and don’t forget to Praise and thank the Lord!