Friday, January 15, 2016
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I think there's like an art to shopping for produce. You can't just grab the first apple or tomato you see. You have to learn to squeeze the lettuce. My wife taught me how to do that. You have to learn how to check for holes and dents in apples and peaches; you don't just take the first one off the pile. You have to check to see how yellow those bananas are, or how green, or how black. There are ways to tell whether a vegetable is one you should buy. Now it's much tougher to shop for a spiritual leader you can trust. But there is a way to tell.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Test Spiritual Leadership."
It's getting tougher and tougher to know which spiritual leaders you can trust. Look, we're living in a time when a lot of Christian heroes have let us down, right? People who say spiritual things, lead spiritual causes, give spiritual counsel, and then all of a sudden something happens that exposes their hypocrisy. In a way, it kind of makes a lot of us hold back and wonder who can we trust?
Well, we're not supposed to have our eyes on man. The Bible makes that clear. And yet, God does give His people leadership; He does raise up teachers. There are authentic spiritual leaders. He does want us to be able to get His teachings and see His love coming through people, but so many have let us down. How can you tell whether a pastor is a leader from God or a person who's doing his own thing in God's name?
Well, there's one person that Jesus really held up as a model leader. It was John the Baptist. He said, "There has been no greater man born among women." Now I cannot think of a stronger endorsement than that. Jesus said John the Baptist was the real deal; a real spiritual leader. And out of the life of John, we get one test for a pastor, a Christian musician, a TV or radio personality, a youth leader.
John 3:30, here's John's statement. Speaking of Jesus, he said, "He must become greater; I must become less." The King James Version says, "He must increase; I must decrease." You know how to test a spiritual leader? Well, one of the tests is this: Does he leave you thinking more about him or more about Jesus? Where is the spotlight? More about his organization, his goals, his ministry, his programs, or more about Jesus? An authentic man or woman of God, like John the Baptist, puts himself or herself in the background. The leader doing his own thing is heavy on sentences that have "I", "me", "mine" in them.
Is this the only test? No, but it's a pretty good start. If you're in leadership, measure yourself that way. Who is getting the spotlight, you the leader or the Savior? The real spiritual leaders, the ones you can trust, are the ones who put Jesus in the spotlight and make you think about Him and forget about them.
Years ago I read about a man who maybe a hundred years ago had lived in the countryside in England. He traveled to London and wrote to his wife and said, "Honey, today I went to two of the great churches of London. This morning I heard Dr. Cartwright and he is a great preacher. Tonight I went to Metropolitan Tabernacle and I heard Mr. Charles Spurgeon." He said, "Mr. Spurgeon has a great Savior."
Do you want them to remember a great you or do you leave them thinking about a great Savior? Maybe you've been burned by Christians, by a Christian leader. Don't let them cause you to miss Jesus in the midst of it all. Jesus said, "Follow Me."
If you've never begun a relationship with Him, please don't let Christians or Christian leaders, or Christianity keep you from Christ. I hope you'll say today, "Jesus, you loved me enough to die for me. I'm yours." You can go to ANewStory.com to get the rest of the story.
If you see a leader who leaves you thinking about Jesus, in the crowded spiritual supermarket that you and I shop in, you'll know that's one you can buy.