Dave Clayton on Becoming More Surrendered

August 29, 2019


Do you ever find yourself in a moment where you feel like you are just not worthy enough? The other day I found myself saying, “I’m not smart enough and I’m not skilled enough. God, I can’t do this.”

The spirit of God simply responded, “Dave, you’re in luck. I’m not looking for the smartest, most strategic. I’m looking for the most surrendered.”

Here’s the reality: the way to “more” is not the American way to more. The way to more is not strategy and skills, speeches and systems. Where has that gotten us? The way to more is on the downward path of surrender. If we want our churches to do more, it’s time that we as senior leaders get really committed to becoming less.

God is not looking for the most skilled. He is looking for the most surrendered.

Surrendering to God: An Example from Ephesians

I love the story of Ephesians because before it became a theological treaty, it was a spiritual memoir. In the story of Ephesus, Paul shows up in Acts Chapter 19. Paul had this amazing church planting track record at this point. 

So Paul does what he always does when he comes to a big city. He goes to the synagogue, and the people in the synagogue did what they always did when Paul would show up. They rejected him, and they kicked him out. Then, he took a few of the disciples and went into this rented-out lecture hall. 

It was the first portable church ever. He shows up in this lecture hall of Tyrannus, but he’s not just setting up on Sunday’s. Instead, he’s setting up day, after day, after day, and he commits himself to the small things and the small places.

How Paul addressed the Ephesians

When Paul wrote the Ephesians back, he was saying, “Hey, here in this little letter, I’m not coming at you with theological ideals.  I’m coming at you with your spiritual heritage, with your reality, because you worship the God of more.” He wants to be the Lord of your heart. He wants to be the Lord of all creation.

God doesn’t just make bad people good, he raises dead people to life. He seats them in heavenly places and gives them divine callings. He sets them on unique purposes. That’s what God does. The path to more is the journey of surrender.

Paul says, “You didn’t get here out of your strategy, or your intelligence, or your systems. You got here because of surrendering to God. You were reminded that the church was never your church. It’s His church, He’s the head.”

I just want to speak to those of you that are senior pastors, or aspiring senior pastors for a minute. Jesus Christ is not your mascot, your core value, or the name that you toss around at the end of the sermon to help people out in hopes that they will make a decision before they go to Ruby Tuesdays. Jesus is your: Lord, leader, visionary, and CEO. If you want your church to do more, it starts with becoming less. 

God doesn’t make bad people good, He raises dead people to life.

How to Live Out the Book of Ephesians

I have no interest in learning the book of Ephesians. I want to live it out. We’re just tasting the frost on the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more. Can you imagine what would happen if we came here, as senior leaders, and we literally did what they did? This means we would have to link arms together as brothers and sisters, no longer as competitors. No longer sizing each other up, but as humble servants, because if your church wants to do more, you have to become less.

One day a friend came up to me and said, “I just felt the Holy Spirit tell me that I need to tell you this. Did you know it’s possible for you to get a list of every name and address of every person that lives in this city, because it’s free, and it’s public? I think you should do that, and you should maybe get us to pray for those people.”

So we started telling all our friends in the city. “Hey, this is what we’re going to give ourselves to. We’re going to give the church back to Jesus, and then we’re going to give our church back to the kingdom, and we’re going to call the city together. We’re going to pray and fast for every person in the city,” and everybody said, “Dave, Nashville doesn’t play that way, it’s competitive. We don’t get along, we don’t do these sorts of things.”

Brothers and Sisters in Christ Surrendering to God Together Created Multiplication

We started with reaching out to one church, but they came back two days later and said that we would need to get more churches involved. The project was too big for just two churches to do.

More than 410 churches from all across the city humbled themselves. 40,000 leaders, 30 straight days of praying and fasting for every person in the city. Every denomination, young and old, black and white, 100 different languages represented in that group of churches. Right now, those 40,000 leaders are literally writing handwritten notes to everybody in the city saying, “Hey, you matter to Jesus.” We’re seeing God do unprecedented things because we’re surrendering to him, and we’re doing it together.

We’re seeing marriages being restored. There are more salvations in churches like we’ve never seen. We’re seeing the sick being healed. This is what happens when we are surrendering to God as we multiply so He can become more.


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