Empowered: Pastoral Perspectives on Life and Leadership in the Spirit,
Chapter 1: Empowered Heart
by Todd Proctor and Josh Harrison with contributions from Harvey Carey, Kathleen Doyle, Darren Rouanzoin, Craig Springer, Chris Wienand and Jon Tyson.
The earliest Christians saw themselves not as a new movement but as the expansion of a relationship with the Holy Spirit to all people and all nations. It was always about relationship. They were being filled by a person. They were being baptized—immersed in—and fundamentally changed by the love of a person.
How do we choose this relationship? How do we will to be filled? Jesus addressed this in John 15.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”—John 15:5
We love that verse until it’s time to live like it’s true.
Cultural Independence vs. Spiritual Dependence
I’m an American. I grew up in a cultural context that celebrates independence as one of the highest virtues to which a human being can aspire. I was taught from an early age that I can do anything I put my mind to. Western culture has told me the greatest good I can pursue is the actualization of my dreams by my power.
While I am profoundly grateful to have been born and raised in a country that values freedom and human sovereignty, this emphasis on independence can be remarkably handicapping when it comes to our relationships with the Holy Spirit.
The kind of “apart from Me, you can do nothing” dependence Jesus describes in John 14 is completely foreign to us unless one of two things happens.
First, the wheels can fall off our otherwise smooth ride through life. Inevitably, we all encounter moments and extended seasons when we realize just how fragile our ability to control our lives actually is.
We experience a loss of a family member or a friend, we receive a scary diagnosis, we lose a job, we lose a meaningful relationship.
Some respond to this level of adversity by turning away from faith and relationship with God. Others, conversely, experience a much deeper sense of desperation and dependence as they walk through hardship leaning fully into and on their relationship with God.
With time, we may look back on seasons like these with a sense of both profound pain and profound joy—not bubbly, bouncing-off-the-walls joy, but the kind that James meant when he wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). This is the joy of dependence.
We do not need to wait for things to fall apart to learn dependence. We can also cultivate it through daily discipline. Many of the spiritual disciplines God has given us are what we call “disciplines of abstinence”—things we stop doing.
These disciplines of abstinence—practices like fasting, sabbath, tithing, and silence and solitude—are incredibly counter-cultural. They help us resist the “natural” culture of self-centered independence in favor of learning the Kingdom culture of dependence on the empowering Spirit of God. As we practice these disciplines, we intentionally choose weakness in ourselves so we can experience the fullness of His power at work in and through us.
Trusting God for More
One of the most moving scenes in the Bible is found in Luke 15. A father sees his lost boy returning home, runs down the road to meet him, and wraps him in a father’s embrace before the son can even say a word. The rest of the story tells us that none of it would have happened if the son hadn’t gotten tired of the pig pen.
Friends, like this son, God has more for us. I say that confidently to anyone regardless of their spiritual maturity. What is preventing us from trusting the Holy Spirit with open hands and inviting Him to do the ministry He has been sent to do?
Let Empowered: Pastoral Perspectives on Life & Leadership in the Spirit lay the groundwork for you and your leadership team prior to Exponential 2022 in Orlando, Florida in March.
Empowered: Moving with the Spirit is Exponential’s theme throughout 2022. You’re invited to join the journey as we seek his presence together.
Exponential kicks off Empowered in Orlando March 7-10, 2022 with 150+ speakers, 200 workshops, 15+ pre-conference intensives, and 75+ networks and denominations in sunny Florida. For more information and to register for Exponential 2022, go to exponential.org/2022.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]