Kingdom Principle: It’s easy to say Yes to Jesus, if you don’t say No to the world.
Being a Kingdom ServantLeader requires you to say No, more than Yes.
|Jeremiah 18:1-11||Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18||Philemon 1:1-1:21||Luke 14:25-33|
As you re-read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 – you see a summary of the characteristics of a Kingdom ServantLeader. We have laid the foundation of being a Servant and a Leader as well as begun to unpack the calling of being a ServantLeader. Servant Leadership while being a paradox in the world, is in alignment with the Kingdom of God. ServantLeaders of the Kingdom make the choice to say “No” to the expectations of the world. In fact, you are bound to say “No”, more than you say “Yes” as a ServantLeader. This may seem contrary to your first thoughts… thinking that if you are servant leader then you are to help those in need. However, if you are truly first a servant of the King, then a leader in His Kingdom – you are only following His leading rather than a slave to the world you are free from the world and have become a bondservants to Jesus. (The gospels are full of references, but glance here to see if your name is listed here.) Jesus reminds us that the poor we will always have in the world. (Matt. 26:11) While your service is a gift to the King alone, the world is going to observe your gifts, talents and ability to move in Authority and Power. In response they are going to invite, recruit and offer to pay for your services, for they desire to have that same Authority and Power for their cause. And here is the rub – if you say “Yes” to them, often (but not always) you end up saying “No” to the Kingdom in exchange of the time and attention you give to their plans. This is not a call to retreat and certainly not a plea to only work for “Christian” companies. (I don’t even see a divide between the secular and sacred – a future post…). This is a call to increase you time in prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit. (Training on listening is Sept. 15, 2013) The concepts of saying “No” as the leading of the Holy Spirit have been approached and can be reviewed here – Don’t be busy, Carry-less, and God’s in Control, and the fact that Not praying changes more things than praying).
Here is the point today – You are going to be defined more by what you say “No” too, rather than how much you can accumulate in your life or on your resume by saying “Yes”. When you say “No” the impact is beyond what you can measure. Sometimes this impact is not pleasant, but when the No is directed by the King, the impact is what you need. However, for most saying “No” is based on their time, ability or desire and saying “Yes” is based on how it makes you feel, your gain from those around you or the need of the pressing commitment. (Refer back to last week about who you invite to dinner – and think about why they say Yes…) If you say “No” to a dinner invite is sends a much louder message to the host than if you say “Yes”. Saying “Yes”, confirms for the host that they have the “sway” or “relational” power to get you to their house… but if you say “No”…. much more will be revealed about you than the host. One assumption I am bringing is that God allows for His Kingdom ServantLeaders to be invited into more places of leadership and impact than they can or “should” take on. This is done in order that the ServantLeader may be refined and define not overwhelmed and burned out. (How many have you and I missed this and fallen prey to the Enemy.) Back to the dinner invite, many well intentioned people would not say “No” for fear they might “hurt” another feelings even though they have not checked with God to see if He is directing them there– they would simply offer an excuse or politely ask for another time hoping it never comes. This is where we compromise our No and in effect we are saying Yes to – is the world. (I often find that God gives great freedom in this area, but still wants us to check in – because again – when God says “No” we learn more about Him very quickly. If you don’t get a No, that does not mean Yes…. But this is a learned process.) A good book on how relationship can get messy and finding a way to know what to do in difficult situations and how to get out of unhealthy relationships is called Bold Love.
In the passage this week Jesus’ fame has grown and he has crowds following him… but they are not following him because he walks to the cross. (great video) They are following him because he has said “No” to the powers of their political system. (which they love, but fear to say “No” themselves.) In this fan fare – many are saying “Yes” to Jesus… but few are saying “No” to the world or the very system that Jesus is rejecting. It is easy to say “Yes” to Jesus if that “Yes” has cost you very little. It is hard to say “No” when it costs you everything. But it is that “No” that defines you the most. Jeremiah shows how the Potter has the responsibility and power to say “No” to imperfections, this is matched with the opportunity to rebuild and start over. Israel is given the offer by God, and they become defined by what they say “No” to – verse 12 continues after the Lectionary section and makes it clear they are saying “No” to God. Philemon was a slave owner (acceptable and normal at the time) and Paul urges him to say “No” to taking Onesimus back as a slave, but rather now as a brother in Christ. The “No” is to what is normal and acceptable. This ties beautifully as to why Jesus can say, we are to say “No” to our father, mother, and family for the Kingdom. The “No” to the family is a contrast to the “Yes” to the Kingdom, but the “Yes” to the Kingdom does not have to mean “No” to our families… but it might. This is a priorities and heart issue, not an actual call to hate those who love us… remember Jesus calls us to love those who are our enemies… it would make no sense to hate those who love us. Yet if we are choosing to say “No” to the demands of our families (after checking in with God) that are in conflict with the calling and leading of the King, then they will likely experience this as hate.
God is our true Father in that he has planted His seed in you by the power of the Holy Spirit or else you remain dead in your transgressions. God is your Mother in that He has formed you in the womb and knit you together. All of those who are children of God are our brothers and sisters…. So your family is those who are in the Kingdom. (Luke 8:20-21, 18:29-30)
If you are defined more by what you say “No” too – who/what are you saying “No” to?
Sometimes this process is more passive than you might at first see – If you choose to say “Yes” to working 80 hours a week – it means you are saying No to many other things. While you may not consider this a choice it is… especially if you believe that God can and will supply all of your needs.
Make a List of who you are saying “Yes” too – who/what gets your Yes?
If you have children, they can quickly demand most of your time…. this can bring an imbalance to your life and theirs – They need to hear “No” from you, because they will hear “No” from God and God has placed you in their lives to come to know Him. As you make your list of who you say “Yes” too…. Think about how this “yes” is in alignment with the will of the King. If Jesus were to call you to say “No” to that person/or act in a specific tangible way – what would be the fall out? Consider this for both you and others. (Be it your child, your spouse, your employer, your aging elderly parent….. )
For those who want a challenge: Take a stroll in Orthodox Christian Theology and the attributes of God– They do not attempt to define or explain what God is, rather they approach God based on what they know he is not. Make a list of the ways and images of how you have come to know God based on what he is not. Orthodox Theology fully embraces that God is beyond our comprehension – so as soon as we say – this is what God is… EX. All-Powerful… we have attempted to put the incompressible into our terms, but to say that God is Not Weak or that God is not limited… I have moved closer to what/who God is , by eliminated what he is not (saying No).