Am I Leading Without Jesus?

December 3, 2018

It is possible to build a church, an organization, or a team by relying only on our gifts, talents, and experience. We can serve Christ in our own energy and wisdom. We can expand a ministry or a business without thinking much of Jesus or relying on him in the process. We can boldly preach truths we don’t live.

I was in my early years as a Christian when I first came to grips with the sad truth that God appeared to use prominent Christian leaders whose relationship with Jesus was either nonexistent or seriously under-developed. It was a discovery that left me confused and disoriented. Yet, after decades in ministry, I am no longer so confused. Why? Because I have experienced to some degree what it’s like to be one of those leaders. I have prepared and preached sermons without thinking about or spending time with Jesus. I know the experience of doing good things that helped a lot of people while being too busy or caught up in my own whirlwind of leadership worries to be intimately connected to Jesus.

Consider the following quick check-up of how your experience of remaining in loving union with Jesus is going:

You Know You’re Not Experiencing Loving Union When You . . .
  1. Can’t shake the pressure you feel from having too much to do in too little time.
  2. Are always rushing.
  3. Routinely fire off quick opinions and judgments.
  4. Are often fearful about the future.
  5. Are overly concerned with what others think.
  6. Are defensive and easily offended.
  7. Are routinely preoccupied and distracted.
  8. Consistently ignore the stress, anxiety, and tightness of your body.*
  9. Feel unenthusiastic or threatened by the success of others.
  10. Routinely spend more time talking than listening.

* Geri and I like to say, “The body is a major, not a minor prophet.” In other words, the body often knows before the mind when our life is out of alignment with God. For example, my stomach gets knotted, my neck tightens, I sweat, I clench my fists, my shoulders stiffen, I can’t sleep, etc.

Jesus faced overwhelming pressures in his life — pressures that far outstrip anything most of us will ever face. Yet he routinely stepped away from those endless leadership demands to spend significant time with the Father. He slowed down to ensure he was in sync with God — that he was in the Father and the Father was in him, powerfully filling every crevice of his body, mind, and spirit. In routinely stepping away from his active work, he entrusted the outcome of his circumstances, problems, and ministry to the Father. And as a result, every action Jesus took was rooted in a place of deep rest and centeredness out of his relationship with God.

The question we each must wrestle with regularly is this: In what ways does my current pace of life and leadership enhance or diminish my ability to allow God’s will and presence full scope in my life?

And may God give you the grace to make one or two changes in your schedule to slow down for loving union with Jesus today.

Pete Scazzero is one of 12 national speakers at Exponential’s New York City regional conference Dec 5-6, 2018. It’s not too late to sign up, click here to register!

Pete Scazzero

Pete Scazzero

Peter Scazzero is the founding pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York, and has served as its senior pastor for the last 25 years. In September 1987, he planted New Life and since then has watched it grow into a large, multiracial, international church with more than 65 countries represented. Pete is also the author of two best-selling books, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Nelson, 2006) and The Emotionally Healthy Church (Zondervan, 2010). He also wrote the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Church-Wide Initiative (WCA, 2009), a curriculum used throughout North America and in more than 14 countries worldwide. He co-authored the recently released Emotionally Healthy Skills 2.0. Pete is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (MDiv) and Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (DMin in Marriage and Family). For more information, please visit the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality website, connect with Pete on Facebook here or follow his blog.
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