An Empowered Heart
By Dave Ferguson, President, Exponential 2022
In Matthew 28, Jesus says “Go.” He is essentially saying, “Get moving, guys.” But then in Acts 1 Jesus says to “wait.”
The more I ponder these two instructions from Jesus, the more I believe he is saying we have to wait and then move. For a lot of us, as leaders, we want to be productive. We want to make a
difference. We have been taught to have a bias for action. But now, all of a sudden, Jesus’ instruction is to wait.
If we want to see movement, first we have to wait. And then we move.
A Spiritual Discipline
Acts 1:4 indicates that there is an empowerment we are to live and lead out of. We must have a heart for waiting. An empowered heart to wait? That feels very counterintuitive.
How do we have this empowered heart?
How do we really begin to discipline ourselves to wait in the Spirit before we move?
As Americans–even as church leaders–we value independence. Josh Harrison writes in Empowered: Pastoral Perspectives on Life & Leadership in the Spirit, “This emphasis on independence can be remarkably handicapping when it comes to our relationships with the Holy Spirit.”
We rely on our own skill, experience, intelligence, and staff to generate movement. What we are being called to is a dependent stance on the Holy Spirit—a heart that is seeking after God and being empowered continuously everyday by His Spirit.
To Do Instead of Stop
Harrison reminds us that 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,” Harrison says, “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.”
As I began 2022, I participated in 21 days of prayer and fasting along with my church. It was a discipline of abstinence. It was counterintuitive. It is countercultural. But over the course of those three weeks I heard God’s Spirit speak to me and say, “I got this” and “Just relax.” Those words from God’s Spirit were also counterintuitive for this proactive, take-charge leader. But they were exactly what I needed to hear in this season of change.
As we enter 2022 and look back on 2020 and 2021, we realize those two years have been difficult to say the least. It’s been incredibly hard for pastors. We had to make decisions and lead our teams in directions we had never navigated before. If we are honest with ourselves, we may not have been focused on waiting on the Holy Spirit and then moving with the Spirit.
Exponential 2020 was the last major Christian event before the pandemic hit. I got home from the conference on Thursday and the next Thursday we canceled church for two weeks which ended up being 51 weeks! When we gather in Orlando in March, we need some time to process how difficult it has been for us as church leaders. Our empowered hearts may still be stressed.
They are definitely weary.
The time is coming for us to move. But first we must wait. We need more than ever to hear from God before we move. If we hear from God before we move, I believe the result will be movement!
If we are going to move from 4%, which is 7% now to 10% (or how about 17%!) of all churches becoming reproducing and multiplying churches, we must have an empowered heart to move the mission forward. It is imperative that we are moving with the Spirit.
You are a leader. I am a leader. I know what it is like to have your heart pumping and mind dreaming about taking the next hill. That is how we are wired. God will use us to “Go.” But first, let’s all obey the counterintuitive and countercultural instructions of Jesus and “Wait.” Wait on the Spirit for an empowered heart. Then we go!
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.