Thursday, April 26, 2007

Leading from the Inside

Do we really need leaders? Do we need Christians to walk at a faster pace than the rest? To run to the front? The great missions movements of the 19th century began with shoemaker/botanist/baptist/missionary William Carey's, "Expect great things; attempt great things." Carey used this phrase in a 1792 sermon to urge his Baptist colleagues to enter the missionary enterprise. Many other movements withing Christendom have followed suit. Run to the front lines and see if God will meet you there. What he did not say was "Expect great things for God; attempt great things for God." Maybe I should take a second look at William Carey.

At the end of last year Wesley Autry jumped off a train platform to save a stranger who had fallen on to the tracks. This heroic act has been turned in to a good salvation metaphor. I like it. Christ jumps off the tracks, runs to the battle, walks deliberately toward the cross--all to save us.

But the logic is flawed. I agree with the thought that "we must do more to reach lost people for Christ." In and of itself you can't argue with working everyday, every moment toward a life that gives all for the Lord so that never an opportunity is lost to share and witness and help other to encounter the Risen One. But... for William Carey, he was so focused, so far out in front, so "into" his goal that many were appalled at the neglect with which Carey looked after his four boys and his wife. Carey simply ignored them. Is it possible to want to "reach lost people for Christ" to the point that we ignore those who have fallen on to the tracks around us?

This is where the story of William Carey and Wesley Autry intersect. Maybe William Carey's dream of a mission to India became an idol? Maybe running to the front is not the example Christians leaders are to portray. "I'm still saying I'm not a hero ... 'cause I believe all New Yorkers should get into that type of mode," Wesley Autry said on CBS' The Early Show. "You should do the right thing...I was like, 'Maybe I was in the right place at the right time, and a good thing happened for good people.'" A leader is not a heroic explorer, because a leader wants everyone to get into the type of mode their in. And if they are in the right type of mode then they can say follow me as I follow Christ.

Godly leaders don't always need to run to the front. Maybe a godly leader is always in the right place. For godly leaders maybe it is always the right time. I believe a godly leader will be driven, not by something outside themselves, visible in time and place, but by a fire in our heart that can't be held back no matter how hard we try. Our passion, our dream, our fire should not be "ours" alone.

From another Wesley...
Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.
John Wesley

Keep jumping

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