The Messenger is the proof of the Message
“Who we are” comes before “What we do.”
Often times in our sincere heartfelt passion to bring the light and love of Christ to the unsaved, we jump to works, strategies and “how to” methods without fully establishing a firm foundation of what it means to be a humble servant leader- adopting the incarnation model illustrated by Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus does not need our ministry, but He delights in the manner in which we walk within it. My ministry may fail, but who I am in the midst of it, will reign and bring Him glory.
Our lives will require us to build and walk over various bridges. These bridges will lead us to people and cultures, but there will also be bridges that will be needed to lead us back to ourselves. Each bridge is unique. Although each bridge may look different, “who we are”- the identities we carry over the bridge and the message we carry must remain the same. The result: Authenticity of the servant, therefore, authenticity of the message. The result: Integrity of one’s own identity and integrity for the culture and people we relate to.
Humble servant leaders wanted! “Here is the path to the higher life: down, lower down! Just as water always seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds men abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless.” – Andrew Murray To attain this stand of authenticity and integrity of identity, the pouring out of oneself is a matter of necessity of the highest regards. A humble mind requires the emptying of self, just as Jesus “…emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” Philippians 2:7-8 Jesus renounced His status without renouncing His identity. We must strive to do the same.
Christ – our foundation
This servant leader must be aware of this danger and hardship: Often times, when the identity that we carry over is tainted or compromised, so is the message. The messenger IS the proof of the message. When the messenger is received, so is the message. “The one who receives you receives Me” Matthew 10:40 It is more critical that Christ’s messengers are “received” than “believed” Without the patience and proper molding of the servant leader attitude, the “doing” is compromised. In essence, the message of Christ is compromised. A received messenger must stand on a foundation which is Christ. This foundation is more than just merely ethics, codes and culture, but rather the bare essence of the identity of Jesus Christ. “The “Christian walk” is a walk in a person, rooted and built up in a person. In a person – not a code of behaviors. In a person – not a system of doctrine. In a person – not a pre-interpreted set of experiences. In a person – not a ministry machine” This foundation allows us to absorb His identity- His supremacy, reconciliation with Man, and His uniqueness, rather than to merely learn about who He is. This foundation allows us to remain found IN Christ – and not lost in Christianity.
A heart battle… is a hard battle
This servant leader builds bridges to the wounds of the heart, not to the weaknesses of the mind. I am reminded of the quote by William D. Rayburn, “In order to know what has to be addressed to the depths of his being I had to wade down to it through what I was convinced were only outward displays of a deeper need in his heart.” In the ministry that the Lord has called me to, I recognize that the Muslim mind holds the Muslim heart captive. I am not in the pursuit of freeing the Muslim mind, but rather the Muslim heart to the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ. This is not an intellectual battle which is debatable, but this is a heart battle, which boldly declares the love of Jesus Christ as undeniable. There is a critical difference and consequence between building bridges to wounds rather than weaknesses. The Lord keeps His eyes on the heart of Man where wounds rest. “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life” Proverbs 4:23 People are more receptive to expressing their weaknesses, but the self is less willing to expose wounds. Building bridges through authentic relationships to the wounds of the heart takes incredible trust and patience. However, we stand in assurance that when the wounds are finally exposed, removing the callous on the heart by trusting the power of the Spirit, that there is not one suffering, pain, insecurity or fear that our Lord Jesus does not have healing and deliverance to.
Trust the Spirit
Can we just let God be God – and let us be creatures? This servant leader must be able to trust the Spirit, which must lead. We assume that the success of our mission efforts and the power of our walk depend solely on the effectiveness of our approach. Who do we think we are? We are proclaiming that we are in control and not the Spirit. The Spirit is the Chief communicator! The Spirit has the ultimate power to penetrate the message in the most restrictive cultures, circumstances and hearts. It has the ultimate power to penetrate through our own self defeat, deception and destruction. Even when we stumble and mess up, the Spirit is still in control. A pure heart and a humble mind require the relinquishing of oneself, declaring, “Holy Spirit invade me.” I would rather partner and collaborate with the Holy Spirit than with man or even my own intentions.
If you’re connected with the Lordship of Christ, you are connected with what Christ is doing. We don’t have the vision – only a King knows the vision, but we trust it because we trust Him. As we walk upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, trusting Him as He teaches us to do His will, transformation is at work.
Being conformed just happens, sometimes unconsciously. Being transformed is work and an intentional process.
We must seek to be intentional servant leaders.