The One Thing Every Pastor And Church Leader Needs To Go To A Higher Level

“My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine and all that I have.” – I Kings 20:4

As a leader it is always important not to project your personal experience onto others.  Their journey is not your journey.  What God is showing you may or may not be what He wants to show another leader.

With that said, God is profoundly dealing with me in specific areas of my life.  Leaders are always supposed to have all the answers and be towers of strength.  I feel very inadequate lately.  I don’t have all the answers.  I don’t even know some of the questions.

And based upon what I see, the message God has for my life currently has applications for dozens and dozens of pastors and Christian leaders I know.

What God has been calling me to ABSOLUTE SURRENDER.  Surrender is one of the “churchy” words people do not use a lot lately.  However, I think nothing captures what is happening in my life more.

Andrew Murray in his book Absolute Surrender says, absolute surrender is when “everything has to be given up to its special, definite object and service.”  For pastors and church leaders like myself, this means giving everything in my life up to Jesus Christ and His service.

Murray adds, “(God’s expectation of absolute surrender) has its foundation in the very nature of God.  God cannot do otherwise.  Who is God?  He is the Fountain of life, the only Source of existence and power and goodness, and throughout the universe there is nothing good but what God works.”

Like many leaders, I have sadly defaulted to trusting in my own competencies, networks, income, experience, expertise, personality, etc. in a search for what is good.  I have found what I have to offer to be woefully insufficient.

I realized, through trials, that God was calling me to absolute surrender.  To trust in Him, the One from whom all blessings flow, rather than myself.  To yield to His plan for my life rather than my own.

Think of a cup.  If you wish to pour water into a cup but the cup is already filled with other things, the cup can neither receive the water or the water, at best, will not be its true nature.  It will be tainted.  It will be dirty water not fit for drinking.  That was my life.

God was wanting to pour so much into my life but my cup was filled with:

  • Greed
  • Unhealthy Ambition
  • Pride
  • Lust
  • Anger
  • Impatience
  • Fear
  • Uncertainty

Can you relate?  I think many of you can.  The answer to each issue is repentance and absolute surrender.

As God began to strip things from my life and I saw those things now lying to the side, I was horrified by what I saw.  No wonder I was not the person neither I nor God wanted me to become.  No wonder God was not doing as much in my life as I desired.  How could He?  My life’s cup was filled with so much junk God could not use me.  The cup had to be emptied.

And so the process of absolute surrender began…and continues to this day.  This is an on-going process of stripping and refilling.  At times it hurts.  Other times it’s painful.  Sometimes I’m scared.  But I know God is at work for my good and His glory (some more churchy words).

Side note – Isn’t funny when troubling times come how we remember the soundtrack of our youth –  churchy words and old hymns.  Just an observation.

Since the process of absolute surrender began, I feel like I’m a better husband and father.  I think I’m a better Elder at my church.  I think I’m a better friend.  I like how I’m responding to many of life’s challenges.

I’m not declaring victory.  No way!  Tomorrow is sure to have its own set of unique challenges.  One day at a time.  One moment at a time.  That’s how I’m taking this journey of absolute surrender.

I may be wrong and I’m not judging but I see much of what I mentioned above in cups of the lives of many pastors and church leaders.  Once again, I’m not judging.  I am the chief of sinners.  I just think many of us may be on a common journey.

Perhaps someone reading this post should self-evaluate and determine what is in their personal life and ministry cups.  Perhaps some entire church staffs need to.  The reality is that if your cup is not completely emptied of things which do not please God, then He cannot fill it with the things He desires and you will never be as successful as you could be – no matter how much you make or what your attendance is.

Perhaps absolute surrender is the one thing needed for your ministry, marriage, friendships, parenting, business and influence to go to a higher level.

My journey may not be your journey.  But then again, maybe it is.

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